The ardor Betty Jackson inspires in her customers is well known. You can only imagine the chord struck with those women when, speaking backstage after her show, the designer says something like, "This collection is about a new feeling of liberation; it doesn't matter what shape or size you are." In fact, though, the most generous silhouettes in this show were the trickiest, especially the smock tops with the flaring sleeves. It was when Jackson stuck closest to her inspiration—the so-called Land Army, who were called on to run England while their men went off to war in the forties—that she produced standout outfits. Like the opener, a skirt that flared to mid-calf, paired with a long jacket drawn in tightly at the waist with a skinny belt, both in a tree-bark-patterned jacquard. Or the chic black coat-dress with a fluff of marabou on each shoulder, worn over a long natural-toned skirt and finished off with platforms and socks. Both looks were significantly reflective of a far-off time.

Going ba-a-a-ack to the past to find the future—it's already one of the season's big stories. The designer insisted she didn't want a vintage effect, though; for her, the inspiration was less about literal borrowing than capturing a feeling of optimism—the idea of a stylish, gutsy woman who won't let adversity get the better of her. "Someone like Diana Cooper," Jackson suggested. "[She'd] be out in the garden in her dress and jewels, digging up a lettuce for dinner." The jewels in this case—by CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award winner Alexis Bittar—were glittery, feathery Lucite bracelets, which could probably withstand a dig in God's good earth. The same notion of homespun strength extended into the ragged, textured cotton knits.