02/13/2013 07:37 EST | Updated 04/15/2013 05:12 EDT

At Reed Krakoff, a utilitarian look softened with feminine and sensual touches

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Many designers have very specific themes or inspirations for their collections — a painting, an ancient scroll, a mountain — but Reed Krakoff finds all that a bit contrived. For him, it's a matter of a mood, or several moods, that he tries to explore.

At his fall runway show on Wednesday, Krakoff's "moods" were, he said, "utilitarian and functional, combined with fluidity, combined with sensuality."

The utilitarian part came via tailored coats and jackets, in colours of classic navy, charcoal and military green.

The feminine and sensual elements came in flowing skirts, an occasional silky dress — like a black-and-ivory "liquid satin" frock — or blouses that looked functional in front but were sheer, filmy and delicate at the back.

Krakoff has had a good start to 2013: Michelle Obama wore the designer's blue dress and cardigan at her husband's private swearing-in ceremony, the day before the inauguration. Then the next day, she wore his cardigan again.

"I was very lucky," he said. "It was a great honour. I knew we were in the running, but you never know until she comes out wearing it."

Perhaps Mrs. Obama's choice of a dark blue ensemble influenced his heavy use of navy in Wednesday's show, which was attended by actress Kyra Sedgwick and Vogue editor Anna Wintour: The first 10 outfits were all in that classic colour.

"I've never done a collection in navy before," he said backstage. "Even though it's the colour I wear myself every single day."