Carolina Herrera's program notes promised a trip to early twentieth-century Vienna, but there was nothing archaic about her pretty new collection. Forgoing the skirtsuits that have made her a favorite of the ladies' lunch set, she teamed leg-elongating trousers with tiny knit sweaters over trim button-downs, and a ribbon-waisted pencil-slim skirt with a short-sleeve blouse in a naïf radish print. It all looked very fresh, but perhaps not as youthful as one might've expected, given that the paparazzi's favorite junior Park Avenue target, Lauren Davis, is ensconced in the designer's public relations department.[

When the spring social season kicks off, Davis and her crowd will be snapped in Herrera's shapely, floor-grazing skirts, fitted to the knee and flaring out in a cascade of ruffles. These appeared in silk gazar and embroidered cotton. If the designer's most recent collection was stripped of embellishments, her new lineup made up for lost time and had them in abundance. More Arts and Crafts than high glam, hand-painted floral appliqués, raffia belts over chiffon gowns, and exquisite embroidery that gave one thyme cotton column the look of brocade were all clever flourishes. It's too bad these confections weren't shown with a younger shoe, perhaps a flat. But devoted fans of her evening dresses won't be dissuaded by such a minor detail and can go elsewhere for that.