Jellyfish. That, Mandy Coon explained, was the rather eccentric inspiration for her Spring collection—an outing that ought to firmly establish her as one of New York's key designers to watch. Still, Coon wasn't overly literal about the invertebrate reference; although there was a rave-colored jellyfish print on a couple of dresses, and leather tubing, used as both jewelry and belt, that was jellyfish-esque, it was more about the suggestive way tendrils of thread hung off her occasionally unfinished hems. In general, Coon seemed to treat her theme as a springboard, and then let whatever other ideas she came up with ping-pong around in her head while she was developing the collection.

That's a good strategy for her. Coon is settling into a few design signatures, such as vivid prints, asymmetric trapeze shapes, and a certain diaphanous quality, seen here in panels of sheer fabric drifting off to one or both sides of several garments. But what's especially appealing about Coon is her willingness to be ad hoc. You can practically watch the creative process unfold on her clothes. What if this black dress had some of that jellyfish fabric hanging off one side? What if we put burlap with chiffon, or burlap with leather? What if those shorts were super-poufy? (Come to think of it, that pouf was a little jellyfish-esque, too.) Several Spring items, one suspects, were made simply because a certain material came to hand, or a certain color caught Coon's eye; this was the sense one got from looking at the draped, floor-length dress in slick, reddish coral jersey. Maybe that coral color links back to the jellyfish theme—coral reefs and so on—or maybe not. It doesn't matter, because what really tied this collection together, even the few pieces that could perhaps have been edited out for the runway, was the force of Coon's personality. She has the confidence to improvise, and the discipline to know when to stop.