Texture. It was impossible to miss the big story at this morning's Richard Chai Love show, which amounted to a fairly natty study of the tactile effects of clothes. What made Chai's take on texture compelling was that he put some focus on its visual impact—for example, the way fuzzy mohair or Miyake-esque pleats could blur a print. More generally, in both his men's and women's looks, Chai used materials with a bit of crinkle or nubbiness to them to introduce a note of pliancy to otherwise fastidious clothes. This was an especially key strategy in the menswear, which saw the designer continuing to emphasize sharp, orderly shapes. There was more of a sense of ease than in the past couple of seasons, though—particularly in the case of the trousers.

Meanwhile, there were secondary themes here. One was stripes, and Chai made a convincing case for wearing bold, vertical stripes top to bottom. In his hands, the effect was remarkably subdued. The other notable theme was leather, witnessed widely in this collection courtesy of a collaboration with Andrew Marc. Chai's instinct for discipline serves him well in the cutting of shearling outerwear: All these coats and jackets looked neat, neat, neat. And all the more desirable for that. Whereas this collection was at its weakest when it seemed to abandon that neatness instinct altogether. Too many of the women's looks were wrapped and patchworked in ways that felt nonspecific and, well, messy. A plaid mohair coat was a better expression of Chai's effort to loosen things up—the effect was relaxed, robelike even, but you understood that the effect was created thanks to many, many, highly conscious subtle gestures. And isn't that always the way?