Even to those mired neck-deep in fashion, it's amusing when a designer talks about clothes for "real women" as the new idea behind a collection. But that invocation was a welcome one today from Carolina Herrera, who can occasionally allow her source material to get the best of her clothes. Explained the designer before the show, "Sometimes you get carried away and are inspired by the moon or the stars or a book that you're reading."

Though her buzzwords were "streamlined" and "straightforward," reality is relative, and the needs of Herrera's clientele still rate pretty high on the scale. But that combination yielded some lush simplicity, as sportif elements were played off of or merged with jeweled silks, beading, and fur. Herrera's sense of drama bubbled under, literally at times, as panels of beading half-hidden in a neckline or scooped back. Simple wool shifts sometimes came with winglike pleats, or a fur trim on a funnel collar. She allowed herself the grandness of high, capelet collars on otherwise clean-lined dresses and coats, and the wide-cuffed gauntlet gloves worn throughout probably helped her make peace with the extreme plain-Jane-ness of a black turtleneck tucked into a flannel skirt. The trick, of course, is to keep your feet on the ground and nod to the stars—no one wants everyday from Herrera either. One standout that struck the perfect balance was a beautiful chocolate organdy coat with flaring pleats and zero embellishment.

It's only logical that Herrera's self-imposed directive would be harder to maintain for evening. Amid the sleek column gowns were a few head-scratching moments, like a jutting triple-lapel detail on one gown and the overwrought, layered sleeves on a pair of others. It's hard to predict which of the designer's dresses we might see on the red carpet in less than two weeks, but at any rate, that's one reality that even the doyennes of Park Avenue can only experience in front of a TV—and they're the audience whom Herrera mostly sought to address today.