Talk to Matthew Ames about his designs, and the transplanted Midwesterner will invariably get around to their roots in American sportswear. There's absolutely nothing rah-rah—or even sporty—about his sophisticated work, but he is indeed part of a continuum that stretches back to Halston and Geoffrey Beene. What, after all, could be easier, more basic, than one of Ames' color-blocked silk T-shirt dresses?

Spring's brights—inspired by the minimalist paintings of the American artists Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, and Brice Marden—were set off against a counterpoint of graphic black and white. Light as his touch is, wearable as his garments are, Ames has a serious attitude about what he does. He continues to be preoccupied with "organic architecture" and "the idea of purifying the form." His goal is to interfere as little as possible with his fabrics, and with few seams and a lot of liquid draping and wrapping, he produced a sharply focused show that wowed with its clarity and color. The only thing it lacked was a sense of play—and that's nothing a peppy tune and a smiling model couldn't fix.