The choice of venue often provides a quiet subtext to the main event. DKNY's latest collection was presented in Manhattan's Classic Car Club, where models reclined amid streamlined roadsters in trim clothes that wouldn't have been too out of place in those autos first time around. Claiming inspiration from "the underground music of the sixties," the designer offered a lean silhouette, with the shrunken proportions and washed, worn, slightly vintage look that has overwhelmed the menswear market. Karan declared her challenge to have been "getting men into a jacket who may never have worn a jacket"—which presumably explains the age group of the models she used. "Just a tie would be a lot for these guys," she opined as she sprawled on the hood of a car.

So the key was a marriage of reassuring familiarity (a gray marl T-shirt, say, and a pair of jeans) and something dressier (slip a glen plaid waistcoat over that T-shirt and top the lot with a two-button jacket, also in glen plaid). Karan emphasized eclecticism as the core of dressing for the city, so there were hardier elements—such as jackets in indigo denim or washed leather—amid modern classics like the trench, the modishly cropped peacoat, and the peaked-lapel blazer. Nighttime called for a pin-tucked tuxedo shirt and distressed white denims.