"Eye candy," Richard Chai said before his show. He wasn't talking about the male models slinking around backstage at his first-ever coed effort. After a few seasons of slightly drab palettes, Chai added the zip of colors like mint and tangerine and big, ripe florals for both his boys and girls. The change in mood was immediate, like downing a shot of espresso. Chai's slouchy-serious downtown stance is at its best with a dose of happy.

In fact, there was less slouch than usual in his womenswear. Skinny cotton trousers with matching shells or printed camp shirts had a snappy precision (though when said pants came fronted by a half kilt, the effect was forced). Still, Chai didn't entirely dispense with the long, soft layers he's become known for, livening them up here with a rose print. But you have to imagine that, in his newish contemporary category, those items aren't an easy sell, unlike the softly draped dress with cutout shoulders that popped up amid the skirt-over-pants looks that closed the show.

As Chai admits, Love is a learning process. And showing his men's and women's lines together was another experiment. More than ever, his menswear appeared geared to two distinct camps: the grown-up skater with perhaps a touch of meat on his bones, and the bony hipster with a high tolerance for quirk. For the former, there was a sophisticated new take on ultrawide baggy shorts to the knee and layerable mesh T-shirts; for the latter, it was cuffed cotton trousers with boxy blazers. But the twain did meet, and often to great effect. The week's newest get-to-get, Amar'e Stoudemire, sitting front and center, seemed to like what he was seeing.