NEW YORK -- -- Several months ago Geoffrey Beene called his accountant from Europe. "I had seen the most beautiful lace at almost $500 a yard and I wanted to know if I could afford it," Beene said before543713651 To see a Beene collection is to understand that there is no limit to what Beene will pay for and use as fabrics in his collection. His shows are like an exhibition of the artisanship of fabric making. Add Beene's genius in silhouette and design, mixing fabrics and coloration, and you understand why he is generally considered an inspiration to the public and his colleagues. Though his fabrics are expensive -- the most expensive made -- that doesn't mean they are the most elaborate. The lace may have subtle traces of gold that boost the price. The silk gabardine appears to be double-faced and very heavy, perhaps five-ply. The prestigious Swiss fabric makers at Abraham haven't made that fabric for years, but they made it for Beene. Beene doesn't try to be tricky with these fabrics, but uses them unencumbered by linings and interfacings in what appear to be simple shapes, showing off the fabrics' hand and drape and surface to best advantage. His jackets, sometimes hooded, are cut with hardly a seam. His three black dresses, monastic from the front, have carved-out backs that show the ultimate in his craft, and also in discretion. His jumpsuits, which he continues to favor because of their simplicity and practicality, are trimmed down to an almost basic shape. So as not to detract from the clothes, the models had swimmers' hair and no earrings. Beene went to Turkey for inspiration. "I never found Ali Baba," he said, but he did dwell on Moorish influences for the collection. They are clear in the wonderfully generous tassel-edged stoles and the hooded coats and jackets. To afford a Geoffrey Beene outfit, you might have to give up the family car. But just think -- 10 years from now you'll still be getting pleasure from your Beene. It is no longer a surprise to see such a strong Beene collection. But it is a welcome event to see Isaac Mizrahi, one of the fairly new guys on the block, show a well-rounded collection full of fresh ideas. Everyone is rooting for Mizrahi. Why else would they travel to TriBeCa in lower Manhattan, a $20-plus, half-hour cab ride in traffic, and in the rain, to see the Mizrahi collection? And wait more than an hour for it to begin? Most buyers felt it was worth the wait. Mizrahi has refined a lot of the things he did before. His popular stovepipe-neck cotton jersey dress for spring has become a nifty, short, barrel-shaped "nose warmer" dress or a long tubular dress in wool jersey for fall. His fold-over waistline sack-pants have been tamed and are used for day and evening in a more flattering proportion. He's a practical man. The double-faced mohair jacket that opened the show can be worn upside down (giving it the suggestion of a hood) or right side up. One imagines a model like Veronica can carry this off better than most women, but no matter. Some vests and jackets have a pocket in the back for flowers -- that is how he showed them -- or notebooks. It is a little hard to imagine a woman who can afford the version he showed in black broadtail stuffing the groceries into the pocket on her back, but the idea is amusing. Mizrahi calls these his knapsack jackets and vests. A number of his raincoats have button-in linings. A brown plaid cotton twill raincoat has one in camel's-hair, and a gray cotton storm coat has one in alpaca. With the high prices of clothes these days, expanding the range of seasons that they can be worn is a plus. Mizrahi broadly stripes his wool jersey, not in boldly contrasting colors but in nearly matched tones that appear to have a touch of gray in them. He uses them in jumpsuits or tunics with shorts, or dresses under a similarly striped coat or solid ashen-toned parka. He shows there is more to be done with a tartan than just a kilt. He uses it for a silk parka and in tartan chiffon or taffeta for a peasant blouse. He's got a blackwatch tartan chiffon for a smoking jacket with satin lapels and sash. And then he turns a tartan shawl into a miniskirt by wrapping it around the waist. He fiddles with the kilt itself, extending it to a strapless dress both long and short. But best for evening are his white silk smock coat and shirt -- he calls them "onionskin," and that's what they look like. What doesn't work as well are his slinky gray, heathery-toned silk georgette dresses that appear to be suspended from a fragile cord over the shoulders. They all have trains. "It is the way I dream of women dressing at a spa," says Mizrahi. Dreams, yes, but in reality that's when women wear sweat suits and robes. There is no dreaming, no fantasy, in the Louis Dell'Olio collection for Anne Klein. He knows his customer, and he's got his formula down pat. The Anne Klein collection is precisely what it should be: simple easy-to-wear shapes in luxurious cashmeres, particularly in ruby red or red and black, or camel's-hair, also with black. Dell'Olio has rounded off the shoulders a bit for fall. And he has changed the very Chanel-like gold metal buttons of last season to his own gold and stone variation. A new jacket and coat fastener is two gold metal rings linked by a softly bowed tie. All the way through the collection, turtlenecks were shown under white blouses. But basically there is something for everyone. Short skirts and long skirts, narrow pants and wide pants, coats long and short. Which is the way the Anne Klein customer wants to dress. Donna Karan, once the Anne Klein designer with Dell'Olio until she got her own label, knows her own customer well by now, too. She believes that what is worn closest to the body should fit snugly. In the past there has always been the bodysuit, and there are new versions for fall, of course. (The best is in ivory crepe with a stand-up wing collar.) But now there is a unitard -- like a cat suit without feet -- in the darkest navy wool crepe jersey. Skinny stretch pants, held in place with a stirrup under the foot, give the same look to the leg. Other versions are the jumpers she calls uni-dresses, using the same principle as the unitard but with a skirt, worn over a white body shirt. With the clothing next to the body so neatly under control, Karan often layers on oversized tops -- sometimes resembling a man's jacket with sloped shoulders or a huge cardigan sweater or swing-back coat. Karan, like others, is doing parkas this season, but she has the only one in shearling. The Karan collection ended the season of fall showings that started in Milan almost six weeks ago. Next week the store buyers in New York have the final task -- choosing what their customers will want to purchase five or six months from now. That is the hardest job of all.