It was just after lunchtime at Joyce in the Galleria, and all the tai-tais had come out to play. A few ambled over to the Rebecca Moses corner where the dark-haired sophisticate was holding court over her eponymous collection - but also because the separates that hung from its racks almost beckoned to be tried on. 'Excuse me for just a second,' Moses said, before disappearing into the cavernous changing rooms next to her section of the store. 'That customer is pregnant and I want to make sure the dress she's trying on looks right.' Then one potential client attempted to co-ordinate a multi-coloured basket-weave handbag with one of the silk cashmere sweaters that lay softly on shelves. 'Are you looking for something for a particular occasion?' asked Moses. 'No, I just want to match this bag,' replied the customer, ultimately leaving with what she came for. It is perhaps this hands-on approach to her work that has won Moses - a New York-born, Milan-based designer - acclaim in high-fashion quarters. It could also, of course, be the fact that Moses makes clothes that are the precise antithesis of what other designers are currently preaching: they do not cling, expose or render the wearer self-conscious. They do not become 'passe' after one season or have logos emblazoned all over them. They are, essentially, quietly tempting in their appeal. 'Cling? These?' said Moses in response to a concern that her elongated jersey skirts might fit a little too close for comfort. 'Not at all. See - I have a big rear,' she announced with typical New York candour. Indeed, Moses may well have created her collection in her image. Wearing one of her non-stick A-line long jersey skirts in black with a taupe-coloured cashmere sweater, a lilac cardigan slung casually across her shoulders, her only accessories were snakeskin loafers, a silver ring and a chunky watch. In an age and city of fashion excesses, her personal style is the apogee of simplicity. 'I'm as understated as my clothes,' said Moses. 'Because I'm American and live in Italy, people automatically assume I spend my time having lunch with Tom Ford [head of design at Gucci] and Richard Tyler [of Byblos] because we're in the same situation. But who can think about lunch? I'm usually on a train to a factory in Bologna or somewhere,' she said. 'Clothes are getting so trendy these days,' said Moses, referring to the elaborate yet completely unwearable pieces that trip off most catwalks. 'The industry has become more about being victimised by fashion rather than having a sense of style. There are so few things that are wearable, well-made and luxurious,' she said. Under her label, Moses has been able to make the sort of simple, easy clothes that she believes reflects fashion's zeitgeist. But she still professes to be amazed at the alacrity with which her collection took off. Although she has been in the industry for almost two decades, Moses only launched her capsule knitwear line a year ago: she also designs for the Italian house of Genny. 'I thought I would sell to maybe 20 stores worldwide, you know, a small business and some consultancy work. I rented a small gallery in Milan - no point in taking on a huge showroom or anything. But word just spread.' Moses sells her signature collection to 70 stores around the world; retailers and the women who buy from them often tell her 'these are the clothes we need'. 'I was in shock,' said Moses, when she realised how quickly her collection had taken off in a market saturated with new designers. About 60 per cent of the line is made of pure cashmere - although Moses' approach to knitwear is somewhat unusual: she decided 'to show colour'. Every season, she creates up to 35 new shades - everything from celadon to lavender, tomato to sunflower. She fashions the light-as-air cashmere into bias-cut turtle neck dresses, long and lean evening gowns, neat little cardigans that are thrown across the shoulders 'like a necklace': clothes, she said, that 'look like nothing special, but they are special'. Certainly, this is quality at a price: figure on spending about $4,000 for a simple cashmere sweater. Moses' strong-point is that she designs for women who lead lives not dissimilar to her's: a flurry of meetings in different cities, business lunch engagements, corporate dinners, plenty of travel. 'Most women don't want to feel dictated to. They want clothes that give them mobility and the ability to create a concentrated wardrobe that is luxurious and comfort-driven. It's not just enough to look attractive in something - you need to feel good in it too, to throw something on and feel instantly at ease.' For warmer seasons and climes, she still uses a cashmere base, but infuses it with silk. There are also cotton crepes 'but treated in a lush way.' The vibrant colours and tactile feel of the separates remain core elements of the collection. While setting herself apart from the rest of the high-fashion set she does make creative concessions to seasonal style trends. For spring, there are halter-tops and 'one-armed bandits' (the new one-shoulder dress or top) - again in soft, pliant knits. Her recently unveiled autumn 1997 collection features cashmere sweaters in stripes or lace prints, or a melange of textures like wool flannel jersey with taffeta and Orient-inspired jackets in iridescent fabrics. Moses has just made the crossover into menswear by showing a luxury knitwear line for men. 'There are only two items of clothing through which men can show their individuality - their ties and their sweaters,' she said. And instead of the customary colours of grey and blue, Moses intends to outfit her male clients in shades of dusky rose, ultra-fine knit shirts and ribbed turtlenecks. And, she says there is no reason why a man cannot sling a lilac-coloured sweater over his boring grey suit.