Imagine Madame Recamier on a Harley-Davidson and you're getting close to the starting point for Gianfranco Ferrés Fall collection. The designer noted in the program that he happens to share a birthday with Napoléon Bonaparte, a piece of synchronicity that put him on a historical-militaristic path that met up somehow with today's mood of aggression. The result, inspired partly by eighteenth-century French Revolutionary costumes, partly by motorcycle-gang-tough jeanswear and studded leathers, is a collision of fierce cutting and romantic flourishes.

The historical references included swaggering Napoleonic uniforms and the delicate empire dresses of the Empress Josephine and her court ladies. Floor-sweeping coats in black cashmere or brown leather came with straps and buckles in place of frogging. Breeches turned into zipped, cropped pants, and the puffed sleeve of the Directoire transformed into tightly seamed jackets lined in fur. All this was mixed in with stylized studded, zippered leather motorcycle pants and the kind of operatic collars that are the designer's signature.

Although Ferré operates on his own in terms of personal inspiration, the collection hit on the general trend for a raised-waist silhouette and an inflated shoulder line. It remains to be seen, however, just who will brave the sheer evening gowns with black lace panties fashioned into what looked like the pattern of an imperial shield.