Christian Cota has always had polish. Since winning the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award in 2009, he has confidently homed in on his signatures: digital prints and a controlled, sculpted silhouette. This year, he followed up his FGI honor with a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nomination and graduated from a presentation format to the runway. So do his clothes merit all the attention? Yes, for the most part.

A week spent at a solar-powered house on the Yucatán Peninsula prompted Cota to juxtapose nature and technology. His prints featured feathers on the one hand, and circuit boards on the other. The feather print looked lovely on leather shorts, but a beaded interpretation of the digital database was too heavy to look high-tech. An avian influence was apparent in the fluttering peplums that whooshed out from the backs of tops and in the upward flight of airy trains on the closing gowns. A short dress with a carefully stacked skirt belled out from the waist; its architectural qualities were beautifully balanced by the sherbet hues of its print.

At their best, Cota's designs look easy but not unstructured. He is an excellent tailor, and when he trusts himself to let the clean lines shine, his skill at flattering the female form is obvious. One of the night's best looks was the quietest: a nude, knee-length silk georgette column that buttoned down the back at the end of a deep V. With pockets on the rear, it looked like a man's dress shirt worn backward, and it was very, very sexy.