Rodarte's inauspicious time slot—9 p.m. on the first Friday of New York fashion week—was complicated by a late start. All was forgiven, though, once the models took the stage at the StyleLounge. The sophomore collection of Pasadena, California-based sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy belied not only their ages, 26 and 24, but also their lack of professional design training. Inspired by what they described as their "youth in Northern California's Muir Woods and 1960's sculptural forms," one gown boasted a harlequin-like pattern of crisscrossing strips of "moon-kissed" silvery satin that resembled bark. A floor-grazing column skirt was made entirely from fluttery rectangles of grayish chiffon. And another dress was adorned with undulating waves of their signature pinked-edge silk. In other words, the Mulleavys are keeping their couture seamstresses very busy.

No doubt stylists will be busy, too, requesting Rodarte's pieces for their famous clients. These are the kind of dressy, urbane occasion clothes—hand-finished with lovely, subtle details—that will help a young starlet differentiate herself from the overdone, glitzed-up masses. And it's a good thing, too. With prices ranging from $3,000 to $11,000, having a celebrity-size checkbook is practically required.