Mona Kowalska, owner of the sleeper-hit Nolita boutique A Détacher, started out playing around with plaids and ended up with a character she called "Lady Redneck."

Harboring what she admitted was a "totally idealistic" preconception of country life, the city-dwelling designer worked Peruvian knits, a Woolrich wool, and calico Liberty prints into an idiosyncratic mix. Before showtime, Kowalska described the collection as being about "grit and sophistication." The sophistication was easy to spy: That would be the delicate slipdresses in navy and cream silk worn with big, chunky scarves, or a nearly sheer crocheted sweater worn with a darling pair of pink silk georgette boxer shorts. Left to fill the "grit" category, apparently, were the not exactly rough or redneck-ish boyfriend sweater dresses and long, basket-weave wool vests. Aside from a few overly voluminous tops (some in padded cotton) that could be put out to pasture, country living is looking pretty good to us.