The last several seasons have been challenging for small brands like Raffaele Borriello's Requiem
. But according to the designer, business is picking up. Credit that to his timely introduction of lower-priced elements like embellished knits, coupled, on the other side of the coin, with a stubborn refusal to skimp on luxe fabrics or his preferred way of piecing them together into one frock. Predictable little black dresses aren't Borriello's cup of tea. Instead, a Fall cocktail number might come with gazar sleeves, a charmeuse bodice overlaid with mesh, and a skirt made from a leather look-alike wool. Other designers may be editing out long evening dresses from their shows, but not Borriello, who describes his label as "an end of the afternoon-into-evening collection." His most charming floor-grazer was a feminine take on the tuxedo.