Almost a year in the making, Reed Krakoff's signature line had its launch at a gallery space in Chelsea today. All the big retailers came out to see if the creative head of Coach could work the same magic on his own ready-to-wear. For those unfamiliar with the designer's success story, a quick recap: When he arrived at the American leather-goods label in the mid-nineties, it was a sleepy $500 million company; now it's a $3 billion mega-brand. As for those retailers' reactions? Mostly pleased: Krakoff's collection of utilitarian sportswear in luxurious fabrics made for a promising debut.

You could see references to Bonnie Cashin, who designed clothes for Coach in the sixties, in the leather-edged outerwear; to Joseph Beuys in the felt coats; and to Krakoff's passion for industrial design in the gunmetal hardware and the different shades of gray he used. Creating a design vocabulary from absolute zero, though, is not without its challenges, and with its military-meets-minimal look, something in the mood of the show echoed Phoebe Philo's influential Spring collection for Celine. That quibble aside, there was lots to like. On the way out, everyone was whispering approvingly of the long midnight blue coat that topped a gray cardigan and extra-wide ivory moleskin pants. But Krakoff's chunky knits also deserve shout-outs, and so do a pair of shearling jackets. Those had a swagger the designer can build on next time.