09/10/2012 08:39 EDT | Updated 11/10/2012 05:12 EST

Acra, famous for red-carpet gowns, goes seeks a more modern, 'downtown' vibe for Spring 2013

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Reem Acra is known for her grand, timeless ballgowns, perfect for the red carpet. But this year she was feeling more artsy and more contemporary, she says.

"It's downtown meets uptown," the Lebanese designer said backstage following her Spring 2013 preview at Lincoln Center. "It's a modern attitude."

The modern looks came early in the show, with a series of casual — for Acra, that is — garments, many with leather cutouts. A navy leather bomber jacket with cutouts, for example, was paired with an ivory stretch trouser. An ivory leather corset came atop a full navy skirt. A tailored dress in brilliant green leather was certain to spice up a day at the office.

As the show went on, looks became silkier and more luxurious. Many of the gowns appeared to be showing serious skin, but actually had side panels of nearly sheer material. There were some comfy-looking silky pajama pants for evening, perfect for nestling on a sofa with a cocktail. Then, of course, there were the gowns.

The gowns came in many colours, embellished in many ways. But Acra said her own favourite may have been a relatively unembellished but very striking vermilion (bright red) gown with the sides cut out. "It's powerful, feminine, and simple," she said.

The crowd, which included actress Fran Drescher, also seemed to like the penultimate offering: A dramatic, sweeping ballgown in midnight navy and onyx, covered in floral paillettes. Acra was not surprised.

"People love the ballgowns," she said with a smile.