"We were inspired by black holes, which absorb all light and energy," explained a dead-serious, soot-covered Rolf backstage. "We wanted to transform negative feelings into something positive and creative."

If only everyone's stress-management techniques were as fruitful. Working exclusively in black (just ask the painted models, who were struggling with cold cream and reams of tissues after the show), and touching upon the best of masters like Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy, the Dutch duo delivered one of the strongest, bravest collections of the season.

In what amounted to an exhaustive exploration of volumes, Viktor and Rolf showed everything from enormous, flared-sleeve gowns and coats to fitted shirts with massive collars that accommodated gargantuan scarves and ties. Asymmetric dresses were gently ruched at the side and paired with cropped jackets that morphed into flowing, capelike wraps; skinny pinstripe trousers looked anything but ordinary with a matching padded vest that created a top-heavy silhouette. Pleated and ruffled shirts, leather-striped jeans, sharp denim blazers and shiny shirtdresses showed that Viktor and Rolf can provide everyday clothes without sacrificing an ounce of creativity.