The effect of Liz Claiborne's investment in Narciso Rodriguez's business was obvious in his womenswear: There was a real sense of chances taken that budgets would once have denied. But the ten outfits that made up the accompanying menswear were a different story. Here, it's about a slow, steady evolution, one that reflects Rodriguez's own sense of self so faithfully that these clothes could have stepped straight from his closet to his catwalk. The connection was most obvious in the shorts he showed, which inched down from Bermuda to culotte length—welcome to the many moods of Narciso's shorts. Paired with a short-sleeved suit jacket, they had a safari flavor. A shawl-colored pajama shirt gave them an indolent ease. And with a sleeveless, belted top, they looked martial-arts-ready.

The remainder of the men's line was built on tailoring: gray or black suits and trousers invariably paired with a white shirt and tie. There was a monkish sobriety to the look, which was only slightly undercut by an almost imperceptible suggestion of color. One gray had a bluish tinge, the other hints of purple. A characteristic of Rodriguez's womenswear has always been intense reduction to linear essence. For this presentation, the same quality applied to his menswear, echoing the monotone drive of the show's soundtrack, Depeche Mode's I Feel You.