"The powerful beauty of random assemblage" was the claim made by the show notes. "Elegant, effortless, sophisticated"—Jil Sander's own summation of her collection was scarcely more enlightening. Though "effortlessness" may actually have been pretty close to the mark. From the first—cropped white pants, cropped navy top and jacket—to the last—a black and white feathered skirt with an artful pinafore top—the outfits Sander showed today had a winning ease, a freshness that belied the designer's rep as the mistress of the fiercely pushed envelope. OK, feathers aren't exactly jersey sweats, but the designer used the pinafore effect a few times in the show and it ultimately conveyed the casual decorum of a towel draped around shoulders in a gym situation. Sporty? Well, that also played into the bared midriffs and shorts that recurred throughout. Never mind the mesh.

Sander always cut like a dream, and the jackets here that dipped in front and eased up aerodynamically in the back captured that knack. They countered her tendency to err on the side of the clinical. And so did some fractured figurative prints inspired, the show notes insisted, by the work of Arte Povera master Alighiero Boetti. They were as colorfully animated as any element Sander has ever used in a collection. They also had a perversely pleasing taint of irony. Arte Povera? Jil Sander? Mutually exclusive equations, until today.