Erdem Moralioglu's designs recently crossed over into the heady realm of wronged-woman court attire, courtesy of the floral dress worn by Linda Evangelista on the last day of her child support hearing in Manhattan. It felt so right for the Erdem ethos: an outfit proper enough to persuade a judge, but with an undercurrent of emotional excess. Of course, "rightness" isn't an Erdem ideal. As he talked through his new pre-collection yesterday, he was clearly still enraptured by the wrong. Acid pink lace appliquéd to a black neoprene sheath certainly filled that requirement, as did a serious coat—its tweed threaded with gold lamé—whose collar and cuffs were crusted with distinctly unserious plastic flowers and doodads. "Scooby-Doo inserts," Erdem called them. "It's always so tasteful and controlled. Mixing in the gummy plastic things felt new."

Did that hint of control-related ennui imply a designer on the brink of a breakout? Not really. Propriety still ruled, even if its grip on the collection wavered here and there. Erdem cited the Amish as a starting point, as well as a photo essay called Las Mujeres Flores, about a German settlement in Mexico. (His bookshelves are always laden with such fascinating ephemera.) What both shared was the idea of a closed world where craftsmanship thrives, a little like haute couture, actually. In fact, Erdem joked that his collection was Amish couture. "There's a human hand to it," he added. "That's what I find interesting."

The reference was most obvious in the hexagonal patchworking that recalled Amish quilts, but if that sounds just about as proper as proper gets, consider that it was most striking in the weird glamour of a midnight navy suit: tone-on-tone lace appliqué, worn-looking lamé sleeves, and big jeweled buttons that glittered darkly. Perhaps it was the folksiness of the patchwork contrasted with the sophistication of the components that made a shift stitched from hexagons of tweed and silk crepe jacquard appear so unhinged. The patchwork looked heavy, especially in comparison to the airy charm of something like a cotton poplin blouse with a print in Venetian blue that could have been rococo Rorschach blots. Erdem likes the tension of opposites, but here, heavy and light were pulling too hard. All that crepe contributed to a retro mood. (Even Erdem's first foray into bathing suits had a fifties squareness.) Looking for something breezier, there were sweater and skirt sets, those languid gowns will always be winners, and, ultimately, Erdem's pursuit of the off-kilter can't help but yield a peculiar beauty.