For Fall, Mark Badgley and James Mischka looked to Alfred Hitchcock's icy femmes fatales: "A paradox of the cool surface and the inner fire," as Badgley put it a few days before the show. Taut silhouettes—a fitted sheath in curve-hugging oyster crepe, a black double-knit pencil skirt, and a black crepe lace dress with a wool collar—made up the majority of the strict daywear.

Then things got a little murky. Velvet open-toe pumps topped with a bow were for Minnie Mouse, not Tippi Hedren, and a string of floaty organza gowns weren't special enough. A pink and black damask skirt, named the Vertigo, felt tired, as did a cashmere twinset with bunches of crystals peppered all over.

Where the designers excelled was in the ultra-detailed final gowns, an evolution of pre-fall's Aztec theme. Brocade, the material of the moment, was fresh in a ball skirt paired with a gray bouclé jersey top, and a slinky white long-sleeved jersey gown stood out because of its exposed zipper adorned with a gold tassel.