For Catherine Malandrino, Fall is about a lean, lean look. "I wanted an elongated, clean silhouette, a light shape," she said the morning before her show.

To accomplish that, the designer looked to the French Art Deco furniture designs of Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann. His rounded edges and needle-thin chair legs were represented in Malandrino's curved-hem jackets, funnel-neck coats, and the ivory scalloped embroidery on a black silk tulle cocktail dress. She went further with the Art Deco theme, applying geometric shapes—either in black velvet or black leather—to nude tulle pieces that defined the collection. The effect was graphic and flattering. On one dress, two lines of rectangles circled the waist, creating an appealing shape without hugging the body too hard.

One highlight of the collection was a lightweight burgundy leather coat, which featured hundreds of Deco cutouts. Flat leather diamonds were attached like sequins, creating depth without weight.

Malandrino also excelled with a couple of hip-length leather puffers, perfect with a pencil skirt and sky-high pumps for those times in the depths of winter when Sorel boots won't do. The slouchy wool jogging pants, a style that has already been seen a lot this season, were equally desirable.

Where the designer went off track was in the eveningwear category. A vignette of navy, plum, and army green satin dresses was pretty, but they were a little too bridesmaid-y to really compete at fashion week. Malandrino's talent lies in her restrained French sex appeal, and the fancier stuff would have worked better if it had reflected more of that.