Victor Alfaro was a designer on the rise in the nineties. He picked up the Swarovksi Award for Womenswear (then called the Perry Ellis Award) in 1994, but eventually experienced business setbacks that forced him to shutter his company in 2003. In between then and now, he designed a lifestyle collection for the Bon-Ton department store chain. Last year he relaunched his signature label, selling it to ten specialty boutiques for Spring 2014. The new Fall collection, handbags included, has been picked up by Barneys. Alfaro learned a lot of valuable lessons working in the hinterlands, keeping costs down being chief among them. He reports that he devoted a lot of energy to finding Italian factories that could deliver his products at the prices he wanted. In his new venture, he's opted out of runway shows entirely, preferring to hone the retail viability of his clothes. He's mainly addressing professional women's working wardrobe needs, and he's built a lot of versatility into the Fall pieces, both in terms of the collection's mostly neutral color palette and the many layering possibilities. There's an emphasis on leather, and the key shape is slightly sack-backed—chic but not constricting, and super-easy to wear. A pair of bold, abstract prints based on the designer's own paintings gave the lineup its energy; the green version in particular looked striking on a silk cady sheath dress.

Alfaro is thinking big: He says he's planning on adding a contemporary-priced collection within the year and a menswear line not long after that.