A tip of the hat to Ralph Lauren, whose sharp spring collection cut through the haze of tulle and organza that was New York like a knife through butter. Last season's English hunting party has charted a course through North Africa and colonial India—hence the serapes and metallic work in today's mix. Mostly though, this was a show of polished clothes that only glancingly hinted at their exotic inspirations.

He started things off with trim pinstripe vests over looser bib-front shirts and wide-legged cuffed trousers or shorts. Suits in silk jacquard and antique linen took a dressier direction; jackets were snug-fitting and peplumed, and pants came slim and cropped above the ankles to show off peep-toe patent heels. The show's black-and-white motif—count on Lauren to nail the trends without appearing to try—extended into dresses, including a strikingly pretty paisley floral tea-length silk with puff sleeves.

The silvers and platinums arrived with his substantially expanded nighttime offerings. Lauren has absorbed today's more relaxed approach to after-dark dressing, so he paired linen shirts with metallic-brocade skirts and pants. But this wouldn't be a Ralph show without a few showstoppers, and the designer gave Diane Kruger (sitting front row in his fall cape and over-the-knee boots) what she came for: a short, drop-waist beaded twenties dress that spelled restrained glamour.