When manufacturing problems hit them this summer after they lost their licensee, Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro scarcely missed a beat. For spring, they regrouped, all kinds of friends rallied round, and with a lot of goodwill and determination, they got their show on the road again in two weeks flat. "In a way, we've gone full circle, back to where we started," said Clements. "I actually enjoyed the fact that we had to pare down and concentrate on 19 looks."

Any coincidence that there were circle motifs on their signature cashmere sweaters? The couple didn't say, but their cute, crisp summer wardrobe of printed cotton coats, A-line tops, shorts, and easy, pull-on dresses betrayed no signs of the stress of the past few months. They took a folksy woodcut print from their home, applied it to coats and bags, and played with stripes (another C.R.-ism) on luxurious football sweaters, cleverly pieced clamdiggers, and neat dresses. With the playful addition of vinyl-and-rubber cut-out flowers clustered on floppy hats, appliquéd to dresses, or made into necklaces, the collection indeed recaptured the charm of their earliest shows.

The difference now is that Clements Ribeiro has evolved into a brand proposition, complete with great shoes and bags. All the designers need is an investor inspired enough to see how those elements can be leveraged into an interesting business. And if it means that the ready-to-wear stays small and the accessories go major, maybe that's the route forward they needed to take all along.