Although his program notes claimed inspiration from Africa, Jeffrey Chow's spring show—with cropped cardigans worn over Bermuda shorts, Empire-line coats, and high-waist pencil skirts—seemed equally indebted to a preppy but slightly boho coed, circa 1968. Sometimes, those influences gelled beautifully, as in the ivory strapless silk dress with African-inspired embroidery, worn with a matching collar (perfect for the anthropology department's spring fling!). But more often, Chow seemed content simply to tweak classics like tuxedo shirts, tailored trousers, and flowing dresses made from chiffon and jersey.

Chow has an imaginative sense of color and fabric that can lead to some inspired results. White cotton eyelet, made into a knee-length skirt or paired with a floaty, pleated, Swarovski-crystal-embroidered black skirt, took on a fresh smartness, while his black-and-white organza bubble dress gave new life to an old cliché. But raw silk—not one of fashion's sexier fabrics to begin with—doesn't exactly win prizes when it's dyed tricky colors like teal, coral, and scarlet. If Chow can steer clear of such clunkers, he won't need to go so far afield for inspiration.