Eveningwear is a tough proposition; all too often, it falls into clichs of over-the-top glitz and heavy-duty ornament. But it doesn’t have to be that way, as Vera Wang’s beautiful spring show proved.

Gone were the Edwardian references of Wang’s dramatic, all-black fall collection. Spring’s silhouettes are simple and completely modern: knee-length straight shifts and skirts, tailored trousers and, of course, long gowns. Using a restrained palette of black, taupe and white (with just an occasional shock of vivid color like violet or red to jolt the eye) and luxurious fabrics like silk jersey, chiffon and tulle, Wang created outfits that were simultaneously elegant and youthful, hip and intelligent. She paired a simple black knit top with a whimsical skirt made from tiers of rough, ruffled ivory silk tulle, ran a line of asymmetrical ruching down the front of a strapless black cocktail dress and mixed in careful details like hand-smocking, crochet and occasional short bursts of cascading ruffles.

There was minimal embellishment, used to maximum impact. A scattering of pea-size glittering glass beads looked like dewdrops against a black pleated chiffon shift, and a pretty red floral chiffon gown had thin streams of lace tracing its seams. Wang added a few lovely daytime pieces, like a white leather coat, a cream organza skirt with a touch of ruching at the side and black wool trousers with white stitching. But her real success with this collection was injecting new life into the night.