"After our last show, we swore we'd never do shows again," Suzanne Clements said backstage before she and Inacio Ribeiro made their return to the runway. That last show was five years ago, and since then this talented husband-and-wife design duo with the charming twin fortes of knits and prints has struggled to find the best way to navigate the fashion system. They love what they do, and they don't cut corners. (Take the white piqué jacquard that they cajoled an ancient Lyonnaise mill into making especially for them, seen here in a little white suit.) And for designers like these who don't have a deep-pocketed backer, the expense and stress of mounting a runway show doesn't always seem logical.

Still, as highly debated as its validity and future might be, the runway show remains the most effective way to get your brand a lot of buzz or, quite simply, to get a lot of hopefully covetous eyeballs on your clothes. "We were missing a lot of the people that needed to see it," Ribeiro said.

Today's message was precise and clear as a bell. First: a silhouette where every element—the clean-cut clothes with very short or very long hems, the platform shoes, the Jean-Paul Goude-inspired snorkel topknots—worked toward a long and longer line. And onto that frame, Clements and Ribeiro added a big floral scarf print that seemed quite traditional, until you noticed its ombré dissolve from one color into another, the magical result of digital manipulation. Knits stuck to the designers' stripey signature; some came with a sequined or intarsia corsage and were paired with straight-cut floral skirts. It all came together for a happy vision that showed the designers at their best. This might have been a reluctant return, but it was a very welcome one.