RIchard Chai Love Spring 2011 fashion week runway show

Looks from the Richard Chai Love Spring 2011 runway. Photos: Frazer Harrison, Getty Images | Karl Prouse, Catwalking / Getty Images | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

DESIGNER: Richard Chai for Richard Chai Love

INSPIRATION: The lightness of being and dance guru Martha Graham; a departure from overly embellished looks of previous seasons

TOP LOOKS: Matte black leather-and-linen twill coat with a taffeta bandeau and full skirt; gray-white blazer with blue stripe and full skirt; slate-colored, double-layered dress made to look like a shirt wrapped around the waist; chalk-white dotted double-layer gown

ACCESSORIES:
Minimal. Flat metallic lace-up tennis shoes by Heutchy

WHO WAS THERE:
Editors from Vogue and Elle, Ken Downing of Neiman Marcus, and Chai's BFF and fellow designer Phillip Lim, who commented afterward, "If I was a woman, those are the clothes I'd like to wear!"

WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Layering is always an important element to Chai's creations and it's not easy to pull off for spring, but he managed to do it with aplomb. Inspired by the sinewy moves of a dancer -- in this case, Martha Graham -- he kicked off the show with a model in a bandeau top and cummerbund with black leather shorts over diaphanous nude stockings. It was intentionally light and a welcome breeze after past seasons of too-short and too-tight garments.

A sea of lightweight pieces followed in soothing shades of dove gray and cobalt blue -- all expertly layered in a sophisticated grunge fashion. More bandeau tops and cummerbunds followed (very Yohji) over palazzo pants.

Culottes were worn over flared pants of the same cotton wash. There were even dresses made to look like two pieces with a shirt tied around the waist, but it was actually a trompe l'oeil effect.

Even if overt layering isn't your thing, if you deconstructed it all, there were plenty of cool options to choose from for spring.

StyleList is your source for New York Fashion Week. Read our runway reviews and backstage beauty reports. Gawk at fashionable celebrities. Watch our video interviews with style personalities. Ruminate on it all with our roundups of Spring 2011 trends.