ENK’s Coterie show ended yesterday here in New York City on a powerful note, despite gloomy news all week long of a global financial meltdown. The overall buying strategy this season may have been to buy what already works, and many vendors anticipated retailers making safe choices. Still, frenetic would be one word to describe the vibe at Pier 94 on opening day, with the bulk of progressive brands such as Obakki, Foley + Corinna, Torn, Rare, Mike + Chris, Converse by John Varvatos, Helmut Lang, Rag + Bone and William Rast showing here, alongside a huge number of denim brands including the majors Seven for All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, Hudson Jeans and J Brand.

Among some of the most pleasing women’s collections this season were Australia’s Something and Something Else, with its edgy T-shirt, dress and trouser silhouettes and inventive fringe detailing on jersey, and Quiksilver women’s with its delicate nautical shirt-dresses and prints. Charlotte Ronson also had a light feel for spring, with her signature rompers but moreso with watercolor pastel floral print dresses and pink peekaboo sheaths for layering.

Meanwhile Secta picked up on the whole bondage theme seen last week at the RTW collections, with wide halter-neck dresses in black polyester and floaty, tiered dresses in nude silk chiffon. Also new were sleek, oversized clutches and handbags designed specially by David Galan for the brand.

At PRPS, shirt-dresses in checked flannel for girls and a dhoti silhouette in denim were fresh as was a four-pocket shrunken leather motocross jacket, a simple gray hoodie done in an innovative stretch fabric, a super clean dark denim jacket and an army green shirt-jacket treated in the vein of PRPS’s signature aesthetic.

Accordingly, destroyed denim (Chip & Pepper also ran with this inspiration) and cut-offs, particularly for girls, were a huge trend this season. Green casts were also popular but not more than solid, bright colors (see Desert Blue and People’s Liberation). Rich & Skinny, always directional with its color palette, debuted a fresh bubblegum pink this season. Leaning towards a classic approach, in the meantime, were Anlo, 1921, Allure Blues, Agave Nectar, Brown Label (best stone gray wash of the season), Earnest Sewn, dVb by Victoria Beckham, Genetic Denim, Fidelity, James Jeans, The Proportion of Blu, Radcliffe, Rock & Republic and Serfontaine.

Although there was one very good light gray wash at City of Others, the designers stressed the importance of their brand message—think donations to charities of one’s choice and unique detailing such as the name plate using exact specs of strikers from a vintage typewriter—versus novelty fits and washes. The former Iron Army designers also said to expect more innovative, art-inspired campaigns in the future.

On a similar note, True Religion seemed to be focused less on diluting the integrity of the brand, introducing pared down gold, silver and aquamarine hardware and fine sequined logos and honing its True Religion vintage program, which, in global sales director Kelly Furano’s words, had more to do with “playing around with what denim is meant to do.” The brand also offered its under $200 Relic program for spring, showing cleaner, four-way stretch denims with less aggressive stitching—a definite threat to the competition. That said, it was a non-stop frenzy at Current/Elliot, with its chambray shirt-dresses, ticking patterned tops, boyfriend cuts (now in cut-offs) and off-white super destroyed and frayed denim.

And though the atmosphere at Pier 92 was much quieter than at Pier 94, the big contemporary guns—BCBGeneration, Cynthia Rowley, LinQ, Robert Rodriguez, Osklen, French Connection and Rebecca Taylor—were all here, while upstairs in the Mezzanine the future of Indian contemporary designers made their debut, with innovative dress cuts, handstitching and stone appliqués by Narendra Kumar, deconstructed men’s shirting for women by Anuj Sharma and bold vegetable-dye scribed and tie-dye maxi dresses by Anand Kabra. Brazilian footwear line Melissa also showed off its latest collaboration with starchitect Zaha Hadid here, while in the far corner beside Anzevino + Florence and J Dauphin (a notable new jewelry line), Suh-Tahn, a new Los Angeles-based collection played with the inner workings of clothing and androgyny. That meant exposed zippers draped from the inside to the front of silk-knit dresses to sporty neoprene skirts layered with gauze. Dresses were draped for the most part but, as in the linen-denim, worked from the idea of using single pieces of fabric to create unusual folds and new silhouettes.