All week long, the question on everybody's mind was: What would Nicolas Ghesquière, the man who has been dubbed "fashion's new messiah," do to top himself at Balenciaga?

Ghesquière's success has everything to do with his ability to subtly evoke a variety of references, altogether avoiding clichés and creating clothes that are richly layered in meaning and almost impossible to categorize. The early 1900s were a point of departure for his black-and-gray collection, but Ghesquière's architectural and impeccably executed designs soon took on a life all their own. Tight vests created hourglass silhouettes, some with exaggerated hips; front plackets on tops were tightly wound and crisscrossed like lace-up corsets. His fitted trousers, which have a devout cult following, were studded to match buckle jackets; miniskirts came with layer upon layer of ruffles, pleats, tassels, and appliqués that never looked redundant or heavy-handed.

Given his ongoing success, will Ghesquière launch his own label anytime soon? "I'm very happy at Balenciaga," said the designer after the show. "But I also want to work on my own line. The ideal would be to do both things simultaneously."