"This is the essence of French classics," Ozwald Boateng said backstage at Givenchy. "It's more about attitude than clothes." Translation: a parade of outfits that—in the herringboned, houndstoothed straightness of the fabrications, in the slight peak of the shoulder line, in the swank prissiness of the accessories—suggested the elegant but screwed-up-tight French gent of global legend. That attitude was also evident in a cape and a trilby hat, the former, claimed Boateng, inspired by one of Hubert de Givenchy's very own, the latter a salute to the style of iconic French actor Alain Delon.

But ultimately, this show was less about France than China, the new frontier for fashion. As is his wont, Boateng opened the show with a self-mythologizing short film, shot amid the limestone towers of Guilin, which depicted his designs as a mediating force in a martial arts face-off. And perhaps in China, Boateng's double-breasted blouson, mini-houndstoothed hoodie, herringbone trench, and old gold smoking jacket will strike men as the essence not just of France but of some ineffable Eurochic.