"I want a woman to feel natural in her gestures," said Derek Lam backstage after his show. With that goal in mind, he loosened up his fall silhouette considerably, trading in lady blouses for tunics, and leggings for full trousers cuffed at the ankle or right below the knee. He even named a crisp raw silk A-line shift worn over pants the "McCardell popover dress," in honor of the great American designer who made practical clothes for the average working girl. There was nothing average about Lam's homage, though; it was one of the collection's strongest looks.

Working a masculine-feminine theme, Lam showed loose-fitting tanks as well as a dress in suit lining fabric inset with lace and piped in black. He also elevated madras chemises and pajama pants by trimming them in silk. If it all sounds a little sexless, it wasn't. Like other designers this season, he chose navy for evening. His were draped goddess style and suspended from one braided strap, a style that is fast on its way to becoming a Derek Lam classic.