With a soundtrack of crashing waves and four enormous beach umbrellas floating Mary Poppins-style above a sandy-hued runway, you scarcely needed a set of program notes to tell you that Alice Temperley had the seaside on her mind. But this wasn't your typical bikini-and-tunic jaunt to St. Bart's or Southampton. The incurably romantic designer anchored herself on the Atlantic shores of France, in Biarritz and Deauville, circa 1925.

The first two looks established the show's wide range: an airy strapless gown of pristine white chiffon tiers, followed by a dark tailored wool waistcoat over baggy trousers. Temperley explored the moment in bloomer-inspired jumpsuits, both short and long, and turn-of-the-century looks, like a lace corset with paper-bagged trousers that could have been nicked from a mourning suit. Her signature knit dresses, striped and in graphic intarsias, came in nautical Coco Chanel colors.

There were a few, shall we say, rocky moments: the overdone experiments in volume, the strange accoutrements on some tailored looks. Still, the show-closing series of typically feminine party frocks will satisfy the coterie of admirers—Christy Turlington Burns, Molly Sims, and Padma Lakshmi—crowded into the front row. The girls may need to jam even closer together next season: Temperley's popularity is sure to grow with the debut of her line for Target next month.