Backstage before the show, Pringle of Scotland designer Clare Waight Keller explained her Spring collection as a sort of détente between two opposing elements of femininity: the frivolous and the pragmatic. "All women have two sides," she said. "Sometimes you have one of those days when you want to look really chic, and you just want to be that; and then other days you kind of want a bit of frill."

On the runway, that mostly translated into sharply tailored luxe minimalism in the requisite palette of black, white, and camel—the kind of thing that the power fashion crowd really cottoned to last season. Waight Keller's contribution to the road more taken was a controlled injection of crafty texture, as befits this heritage house. Coats and vests in a loosely knitted wide rib had spines of short fringe, and ribbon was either woven into thin silk sweaters or, at times, crafted into an all-ribbon top, rippling with great texture. Elsewhere, Waight Keller turned the twisting cables of an Aran knit into a tonal embroidery on silk dresses and blouses.

One non-crafty chapter of the story was the half-skirt. It was sometimes belted onto dresses as an apron, with glossy slim silver buckles used throughout. And sometimes it was little more than an A-line skirt with a very wide front slit. The concept did its part to prevent a sportswear coma, but often seemed forced. In the end, shoes with feathered ankle cuffs notwithstanding, frivolity seemed to get the short end of the stick. But that's OK. If last Fall proved anything, practicality has its magic.