The New York calendar this fashion week is as full as it's ever been, and editors from here and away have been complaining more than ever before that the city has no barrier to entry. Unlike in Paris or Milan, anyone with a few bucks and a dream can find their way onto the official schedule. From the opposite side of the spectrum comes Carolina Herrera. Even with a heavy rain shower, she filled the Lincoln Center theater venue; and for the occasion, not content to merely hire an expensive music director, she commissioned her own "Capriccio for Carolina." Let the little guys fuss over pop hits and designer DJs. Herrera required the full symphonic talents of the London Contemporary Orchestra.

"This collection has great drama and emotion!" was her comment. To put it mildly. Herrera's collections don't often dovetail with the reigning trends of the season but they're fully realized enough to create their own realities. That was the case here, and more strongly than in seasons past. The designer imagined a heroine of the 1940s: With her victory-roll coif and her wasp-waisted dresses and full skirts, she was a kind of vixenish moll. Herrera didn't stint on fur, which was one of the collection's major statements, whether wrapping around a bodice (a bit much of a muchness) or trimming felt belts that emphasized those tiny waists. So tiny, in fact, you wondered how the collection might scale up to the size of regular women in place of the slivers on the runway today. But Herrera's clothes were classy enough, and possessed of enough guff, that even the most teenaged of the runway belles looked to be of stauncher stuff just for the wearing. There's nothing entry-level about that. Once again, Herrera showed the new guard how it's done. If the whole was a bit beholden to its historical reference, the collection nevertheless made its point. So strongly, in fact, that you left wondering aloud: Who knew Zuzanna Bijoch could do such a passable Katharine Hepburn?