You can't help but be drawn in by 25-year-old Dean Quinn's fashion fairy tale of a story. At 16, he left his small town in Ireland for London, where he called every single person and finally scored an internship with Zandra Rhodes. "I learned so much. Then she said, 'You need to go to Central Saint Martins,'" Quinn gleefully related at tonight's presentation. "I had never heard of it. I thought it was a religious school." The happy ending: He went and graduated with the Womenswear Designer of the Year award, which prompted Donatella Versace to come calling. After a year, he struck out on his own.

Now on his second season, the designer is proving himself to be more than just good copy.The 14-look collection—all dresses and gowns—had a bright, sporty-sexy look that, while impactful, might not grab you with its originality at first glance. But Quinn's talent is sweating the small stuff. Take a closer look at the hand-cast gold zippers, the couturier's pintucked pleats, and construction that lets these body-con beauties move with the ease of Spandex even though they're cut in crepe, and you'll start to understand why Quinn's debut spring dresses at Barneys New York have all but sold out.

He's also managed to keep his retail prices strategically under $1,000, evidence that he's got an eye on reality. "In the past couple of years, there's been a culture of showpieces and demi couture," he explained. "That is definitely not where I want to be. I want to be a business. I look around and ask, 'Who's going to be around in five years?' I want to take it really slow."