Damir Doma set himself a difficult task this season, trying to make a persuasive case for office drab. Backstage he was talking about a "neo-corporate woman." On the runway, he opened with a trio of looks in boardroom gray: a ruched-collar popover top and tapered trousers, a cropped jacket and swingy skirt, a side-zip dress. On the models' feet: sturdy shoes with thick soles over sheer pantyhose, which conjured thoughts of the sneakers that workingwomen sometimes wear for their commutes. So far, so flat.

Doma's Spring show qualified as a breakthrough. It makes sense for the designer, who already has his own store despite his still-tender age, to design clothes for urbanites' real lives. Here, though, he backpedaled too far on what made Spring great: color, for one thing, but also a looser, cooler sensibility. The Fall show did improve as it went on. A sleeveless dress tied at the waist with superfluous leather sleeves had an appealing ease, and the fuzzily abstracted houndstooth motif Doma used for a pantsuit added a bit of an edge to the proceedings. An oversize charcoal coat with four narrow stripes at the hem was also strong. And it wasn't all shades of gray. A vivid raspberry added some dimension to Doma's office separates. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to turn this collection around.