Albert Kriemler finds himself in a tricky position: As the creative force behind Akris, he dresses seriously chic women—Diane Sawyer, for one—in seriously chic clothes that are fashionable without being fashion-y. No small accomplishment. But he wants to be taken seriously as a designer, too, which means setting trends, not simply setting his focus on the timelessness of a well-cut suit.

He made a stab at it for Spring, using sailing as a leitmotif. The wooden runway, for starters, was made to resemble a high-tech yacht, and within this setting the designer loosely interpreted the sailor suit as a vertically striped sleeveless blouse worn with high-waist full-legged pants. Elsewhere, the maritime concept was given a full-on spin in tailored jackets with the squared-off back flaps of naval uniforms, and a two-piece dress stitched from strips of leather to resemble decking.

Unfortunately, the conceit often came across as contrived. A poppy-colored organza dress adorned with laser-cut square pennants was like a red flag: Danger! Kriemler would do better for himself and his customers by sticking to the sophistication for which Akris is known.