It would be all too easy for the soft-spoken femininity that’s dominating New York’s spring collections to go wrong. A little too much lace, a few too many bows, and poof!—sugar has turned to saccharine. In one of the season’s more refreshing collections, Max Azria demonstrated a sure hand with the trend, showing a distinctive, individual take on what’s becoming well-trodden terrain.

Instead of the same Easter-basket pastels, Azria chose an unusual palette featuring a twenties color scheme of deep rosy pink, aquamarine, pale chartreuse, black, and ivory. He added big floral prints reminiscent of Dagobert Peche’s Wiener Werkstätte designs, and balanced retro-looking fabrics like lightweight cotton voile and washed twill with modern nylon and Lycra blends. The silhouettes were clean and easy: A-line dresses that skimmed the body, cropped pants, short jackets with three-quarter sleeves, and thigh-length coats.

Azria delivered charm aplenty—particularly via the tiny ruffles that he stacked on the pretty bikini tops and bottoms, scattered on a minidress, and used to line the edges of a camisole neckline or hem a pair of Clamdiggers. Like a good cook with a tricky recipe, the designer knew just when to stop fussing with his fashion.