Like many (or at least some) Americans these days, Christian Cota is feeling guardedly optimistic—and he expressed that mood through the metaphor of an urban garden. "You're still in the city, but you can see something growing beyond the gates," he explained at his jam-packed presentation Tuesday. (Rose Byrne and Amerie were among the crowd.) Blossoms popped up all over the place, from gorgeous saturated prints—seen on a long dress with a fitted bodice, as well as on a slim A-line skirt—to the flowerlike shapes of the clothes themselves. "I wanted the woman to look like she was blooming," Cota said.

But not everything was roses. A silver lamé bandeau and knee-length skirt were meant as an alternative to all the super-short after-six dresses out there, but the idea didn't quite work. (What the look lacked in leg, it more than made up for in midriff.) For a young designer starting out, though, Cota has an impressive number of admirers, and they should be able to glean enough good stuff from this collection to hold them over until he finds a surer footing.