To get to the heart of Narciso Rodriguez's Fall collection, you have to start with the boots. They were pointy-toed and extended halfway up the shin, but their most notable feature was that they were flat. There's been a lot of talk lately about kitten heels, flat-forms, and the return of practical shoes, but it's just that, mostly talk. The fashion crowd hasn't been too quick to give up its stilettos. So it took a fair amount of self-assurance to commit as resolutely to flat boots as Rodriguez did. They weren't necessarily the obvious choice for his sleeveless, somewhat loose-fitting, three-quarter-length dresses, and yet they worked, lending the collection a modern, un-prissy appeal that connected it to the street.

Sticking to one dress silhouette as he did allowed Rodriguez to zero in on fabric, cut, and color. Backstage he said he was looking at different kinds of art, but collage in particular, which made sense when you saw the color-blocking and the way he combined not just hues (midnight, black, lavender, and cobalt, say) but also textures (silk and wool, or chiffon and bands of sequins). A series of red, pink, white, and black printed silk fil coupé shifts, meanwhile, had a softer, more painterly hand.

As for the tailoring, it was grown-up where the dresses were fresh. A tonal charcoal plaid blazer, fastened with hooks and eyes, and its matching pants were as close as Rodriguez got to a straight-up suit. Like others have this season, he showed two-tone trousers. Jackets and coats were bisected vertically and horizontally with stripes of contrasting colors. It was super-graphic.

Following on last season's stroll through his nineties hits, this was Rodriguez waxing anti-nostalgic. We're glad we tuned in.