Maybe it was the jazz playing on the sound system, but there was a distinctly Beat Generation vibe to the menswear Steven Alan showed at Lincoln Center this morning. There was just something about those turtlenecks and utilitarian jackets and trim pants, and the rumpled yet natty presentation, that conjured images of preppy literary types gone elegantly to seed. It was easy to imagine a guy showing up to a reading by Jack Kerouac in Alan's shawl-collared cardigan or tan corduroy suit.

Alan's womenswear statement was less clear. He had certainly stepped up his game this season, introducing material such as leather and velvet and giving his looks an altogether cleaner, more sophisticated mien. But Alan's understated aesthetic works to his disadvantage in a presentation format—it's not a problem, per se, that he doesn't offer any big silhouette propositions each season, and it's to his credit that he refuses to trick out his looks just to make noise, but the subtlety of his development does force you to work extra hard to discern his refinements. This season, he was playing around with proportion, showing long versions of his signature shirting and cutting his jackets long, soft, and square, for the most part. The strongest look here paired a pale blue button-down, cut broadly, with pinstriped navy track pants—you could really see his girl in that ensemble. Ditto the gridded cream shirtdress, shown with matching pants and a trenchcoat so slouchy it seemed to be melting. But that girl's presence was quite a bit fainter everywhere else. All in all, this was a typically well executed and commercially viable womenswear collection, and it had a nice sense of elevation. But the menswear was so fully formed this time out, it made the women's clothes seem wanting by comparison.