Knit suits used to be the bread and butter of St. John. But the Fall presentation—a first during New York fashion week—made it known that the label is no longer just for ladies who lunch. Karen Elson, the model-turned-rocker who became the face of St. John last year, could be indicative of the sort of modern customer the sportswear company is aiming for.

Creative director George Sharp called out a white satin short-sleeve tee as his favorite piece, and the buzzing crowd of retailers and editors seemed to agree. The shirt added a youthful edge to a flannel, fitted maxi skirt with a train. Long skirts popped up frequently, but the effect was far from frowsy—take the cool, silver paillette number paired with a simple sweater. A one-shoulder burgundy goddess dress was quite stunning on Aminata Niaria. Worn with piles of chains from the new costume-jewelry line designed by Neville Ward, it was a look that showed St. John has one foot planted in its past and the other taking a definite step forward.