For spring, Carolina Herrera jettisoned the fifties inspirations that threatened to weigh down her fall collection. With a front row lined with both new and longtime members of the best-dressed list, she seemed to be thinking, Why look anywhere else for ideas? Realism was the order of the day, served with a smattering of couturelike touches and Verdura jewelry. Her trench was cut in black-and-white lace and accented with rosettes. A slim wool sheath—the very essence of urbane simplicity—came with subtle pleating details. And this time, the references to the past were handled gently. A toile sundress was printed with the likeness of Marilyn Monroe, but if you weren't looking closely, you might have missed it.

That fabric appeared later in the show, underneath a veil of heavily beaded chiffon. If some of the evening dresses were a little busy and overdone compared to her lighter resort offerings, there were at least two that had her gals circling their program notes: One was the finale, a net cocktail number with ribbon embroidery that was right in line with the fun, short dresses seen on many spring runways; the other was a slim matelassé gown with a ribbon sash dividing a rose tank and a deeper red narrow skirt. It was polished, but also effortless—a combination the designer pulled off with a fair degree of consistency in this collection.