Fashion is often best with a bit of push and pull. So it made sense to see Roksanda Ilincic's more casually inclined Fall collection in the ornately chandeliered, gilt-y environs of the Institute of Directors. A touch more juxtaposing: the live pianist on a baby grand playing Nirvana and L7.

Backstage, Ilincic explained that her Fall collections usually have a bit more polish and structure, but it felt here as if a layer of the designer's famed glamour had been stripped away, and a new sportif one smoothed on. Ilincic used heather gray wool and cashmere, with all its cool athletic connotations, to play off her super-vivid color—inspired, she said, by exotic birds.

For the coolest gal at the gala, there was a boxy wool tunic over a silver bias skirt that fluttered oh-so-perfectly as the model walked. And when she's at work or cocktails, said gal might go for a lipstick-red fox stole draped over a sweatshirt and louche, burgundy, tuxedo-striped trousers. About those trousers: We've seen similar iterations this season, but Ilincic used her deft draping skills to do a long, twisting cut that billowed beautifully about the leg.

Also new this season were wool georgette day dresses that looked like separate tops and skirts pulled together by a contrast ribbon belt; these also had round-the-clock appeal. Add a few inches to that hem, and one might be a terrific option for Michelle Obama, one of Ilincic's newest fans. But more immediately, we wouldn't be surprised to see the red-carpet commentators gushing over one of the liquid satin gowns that closed the show, this Sunday night on our TV sets.