Not far into Francesco Scognamiglio's Fall show, a fellow editor leaned over and said, "A lot tamer than usual, no?" It was certainly less risqué than last season's strong outing in which every piece, without exception, was sheer. Today by contrast, in what looked like a play at commercial viability, Scognamiglio introduced crochet knit sweaters and neo-conservative tailoring in a stiff woolen with a slight metallic sheen. He even, believe it or not, sent out a few of his models with briefcases tucked under their arms.

But Scognamiglio could only hold back his eccentric impulses for so long. Midway through the show there appeared a button-down shirt printed with a pair of whales and grapefruit slices. Animals and fruit were popular tropes for Spring, but only the designer's psychiatrist could plumb the meaning of that combo. Later on, a bias-cut column gown came out with hip panniers in stuffed grapefruit slices—if nothing else, the exaggerated padding was on-trend. Truth be told, Scognamiglio is best in avant-garde mode. A fuzzy overcoat with splatches of electric green car paint had a sit-up-and-notice-me quality that some of the safer pieces lacked. Negotiating that divide will be Scognamiglio's challenge going forward.