With new designers, growth spurts often come fast and furious. Days before their show, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs reported that Spring's collection, only their third so far, had tripled the label's orders and lured heavyweights like Neiman Marcus. But today's show was evidence that Cushnie et Ochs' forward strides aren't limited to the sales books. Working in a concise and stark palette of black, ivory, and a small array of browns, the pair focused on texture and construction. As unsexy as that might sound, it was plenty exciting to see panels of glossy black ponyskin set into the front of a beautiful double-face wool coat, or the polka-dotlike holes in a black leather pencil skirt paired with a black mesh knit. It's an approach that resulted in the double benefit of clothes that were luxurious and commercial in the best sense.

Dresses, a label mainstay, evolved from the extreme body-con look of seasons past. Most were still fitted and sleek, but it was a subtler brand of sexiness. A standout crisscross draped number that was the color of chocolate ice cream had best-seller appeal. Still, last season Cushnie and Ochs started to branch out from being so fixated on frocks, and that came to fruition here. Their outerwear and separate pieces for both day and night were among the most exciting offerings. That's not to say this was a perfect collection. In fact, it suffered from a few clunky moments. The sparkly, padded suit would be flattering on no one. And an ivory dress with snaking sculptural ruffles just seemed immature next to the far chicer ensemble of a crinkle-textured crewneck tucked into a sideswept draped skirt. The latter direction is the way this label should keep going as it maintains its rapid clip.