Last season, it seemed as if Donna Karan had never met a pinstripe she didn't like. Today, she dumped tailoring like she was shorting a bad stock. The mood chez Karan for Spring is decidedly ethereal—the palette all dusk and dawn, with fitted-on-top, full-below-the-waist silhouettes borrowed from the world of ballet, or the 1950s. Such zigzags aren't uncommon in this business—some of Karan's contemporaries have built their fortunes on them—but this one proved a bit more disorienting than usual.

A fitted spiral sheath in eggshell white canvas and a matching cropped jacket with three-quarter sleeves resuscitated the strong urban message of the designer's Fall lineup. A draped silk dress in oyster gray was another sexy look. Bette Franke's handkerchief linen sundress, meanwhile, had a sweeter demeanor but was still ravishing. More often than not, though, the clothes felt soft-focused. Despite show notes proclaiming "the awe of coming into the city" as an inspiration point, there was a lack of edge to such evening looks as a pair of chiffon gowns with a smattering of sequins and natural pearls and a deeply cowled long dress in platinum viscose crepe. The collection came alive with a pair of navy blue gazar gowns printed below the knees with enormous pink shells, but they arrived a little late.