Natty English check was a big trend on the New York runways this season. And so it was reasonable to expect that Daks, an actual English heritage brand, would muster its considerable authority on the look and send a chest-thumping collection down the runway this morning. Well, that didn't happen. The use of the Daks check was more emphatic than usual, but aside from that, womenswear designer Sheila McKain-Waid kept this collection very, very understated. There were two key themes here, the first of which saw McKain-Waid shrinking her trademark sculptural silhouettes and concentrating on less obvious construction ideas, such as wrapping and curved seaming. The second theme was more ambient, but it echoed the first: In place of the dreamlike mood of the past few shows, this one found the Daks woman exhibiting an attitude of streetwise nonchalance.

Both of these developments served to make this collection feel somewhat constrained in its ambition. The execution was typically assured, and there were a few knockout pieces, like the cropped jackets with doubled lapels and the twisted wool flannel jumpsuit that opened the show. But the focus seemed to be on producing conventionally proportioned, commercial looks—an impression underscored by the near-constant repetition of the Daks check. Still, McKain-Waid isn't a lazy designer, and even if this collection didn't always seem scaled for the runway, the individual pieces generally repaid close scrutiny. To wit, McKain-Waid's fantastic single-breasted macs, which had been shorn of breast flaps and shoulder pads and pretty much any other potentially extraneous detail; they weighed virtually nothing. The collection was full of good ideas like that. Here's hoping that next season McKain-Waid once again gives herself room to communicate all those good ideas with a bit more force.