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SPRING 2014 READY-TO-WEAR Michael Kors

When he's good, he's good. Michael Kors sent out a beautiful collection of real-world clothes today that had women in the crowd making mental shopping lists. "A softer attitude…the juxtaposition of sportif and romantic…sharply tailored meets soft and fluid," were some of his notes. The clothes had echoes of the forties (think Kate Hepburn in a trench and full trousers) and the seventies (Meryl Streep circaKramer vs. Kramer), but this is one case where looking back didn't produce retro results.

Kors opened with breezy white linen daywear for the girls and the boys. For the clients who can't escape the city, he proposed banker's-stripe button-downs and khaki skirts or a smart brown pleated dress with python detailing. His coats, predictably, looked great; he understands the power of an entrance, not just at a party, but also at the office. For the gals who do get away, the summery offerings ranged from leaf-print separates (the best in tan and lawn green) to pinup-girl bikinis. All of it had a confident American ease.

The surprise here was how much of the collection seemed designed for cold weather: the fox chubby, a mohair cardigan, and some very clever cashmere shrugs that reversed to sable. But Kors is on to something. After all, these clothes start landing in stores shortly after the new year, and more and more, thanks partly to the Internet, designer shoppers are learning to buy in season. A gorgeous suede coat for a January or February pick-me-up? Yes, please.