02/08/2013 06:18 EST | Updated 04/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Jason Wu finds balance in a collection that marries strength and sex appeal

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Jason Wu's fall collection, previewed Friday at New York Fashion Week, was all woman. Not girlie. Not mannish. That was by design.

"This collection is really about the woman," Wu said backstage before his show at a former Park Avenue church. "I wanted to bring back the woman to the runway."

The clothes were full of strength, with exaggerated shoulders and some military touches, but chiffon pleats floated down the runway. Two outfits were long — as in floor-length — pleated, peplum tops over tuxedo pants, the perfect yin and yang.

Red that offset the mostly black-and-white combinations was the va-va-voom. Use of the colour both here and on Michelle Obama's inaugural gown last month was not a coincidence. Wu started on the collection in October and the gown — for which he received plenty of congratulations and accolades — was designed in November.

"Certainly red was on my mind. ... I felt it was right for right now," he said.

One of the looks for next season Wu highlighted for reporters was a strapless cocktail dress that was mostly black but had a red overlay. It embodied the complex "poetry" he was trying to convey, he explained.

Other standouts were the fur-trimmed, funnel-neck trench that opened the show, and the snakeskin-chiffon dress that married coolness with femininity.

The bone-colored silk peplum gown seemed like it would have potential for the first lady, although he'd have to cover up the sexy sheer spots.

Model Cara Delevingne didn't wear the finale purple peplum gown, but she had on the dress that best summed up the day: Her white satin-twill dress covered in white soft feathers evoked snowflakes falling from the sky.

Wu moved his show from a raw downtown space last season to the very uptown and polished space, where Oscar de la Renta used to stage his fashion shows, and it seemed to better suit his look.