"There's definitely a dark side to Jason Wu," the designer told this reporter last month. Dark isn't exactly the right word for pre-fall, which is a sexy ode to Antonio Lopez and his "Girls" Jerry Hall and Grace Jones. Still, Wu's reputation for ladylike clothes must be starting to feel confining. On the runway in September, Lillian Bassman's influence sweetened the provocative Helmut Newton touches. Here, the designer was in full-on retro-fabulous mode. Bordeaux sequins were embroidered onto the black stretch tulle of a glove-tight gown, eelskin was sliced into a figure-loving dress, and mink was dyed black and white and chevroned onto a leather coat.

The glam era has been done by just about every designer you can name. With the Mauricio and Roger Padilha-edited book on Antonio Lopez that was published earlier this year, we're bound to see further incarnations. Wu is treading on familiar ground, even though he did include signatures of his own like stripey knits, dressy shorts, and deluxe parkas in the mix. In any case, if his concept lacked originality, he managed to make up for it in its execution. Take a cocktail dress made from tweed overlaid with organza that was stitched in place, creating a sort of quilted effect—nobody was doing that in the seventies. In the end, it's a positive to see him pushing himself past his comfort zone.