"It's an invitation to travel," said Catherine Malandrino of her Spring collection, called—appropriately enough—Nomads. Opting for a presentation, Malandrino divided the show into four parts of the world, represented by four different peoples: the Nuba of Sudan, the Berbers of North Africa, the Cashibo of Peru, and the Samoans of Polynesia. Each inspired a tableau vivant, creating a sort of fashion week Epcot Center. There were tribal appliqués and zebra prints (Sudan); dusty-hued, languid layers (Sahara); intricate knits and colorful beading (Peru); and saronglike draping and saturated island brights (South Pacific). Malandrino tied it all together with recurring silhouettes, particularly jersey jumpsuits, cropped harem pants, and little jackets.

Surprisingly, the contrivance made for a solid offering that was less overwrought than in seasons past. Malandrino described it as a way of exploring different expressions of beauty. Of course, that's essentially what many fashion designers already do without framing it so overtly. Certainly Malandrino has, particularly with her penchant for crafty touches. Here it seemed that she was focusing on her core strengths, with a collection to resonate with longtime fans like Mary J. Blige. She walked in as I walked out, and I'll bet there's at least a black leather bolero on her shopping list, if not much more.