When Julianna Margulies picked up awards at both the Golden Globes and the SAGs earlier this year, she looked every inch a winner in a pair of Narciso Rodriguez gowns. Clearly, this designer can do red-carpet sizzle with the best of them, but as it turned out, that isn't where his head was at for Fall. Inspired by what he described in rather cerebral terms as "beautiful curved lines and shadows," he sent out dramatic coats and eye-grabbing, short, color-blocked and ombré dresses. If the concept was brainy, the execution was never boring.

The curved lines Rodriguez spoke of backstage came into play in a number of ways: as a circular silk mikado inset on the front of his show-opening wool twill coat, or in the graceful lines of a bell-shaped black shearling. Dresses came with doubled asymmetrical bodices in contrasting colors, or they were paired with cropped jackets studded with nail heads, exposing flashes of collarbone or rib.

As for those shadows, they made a subtle appearance on a wool/angora coat that shaded barely perceptibly from chalk white to gray to green. They also surfaced more aggressively on a fantastic zip-front dress that swirled from brick red through gray. In a season heavy on black and relatively light on uplift, these clothes will stand out on the racks. This was about as maximal as this minimalist gets, and for Rodriguez the result was a strong, finely balanced collection.