The soaring poignancy of Alexandre Desplat's soundtrack for the movie Birth set the mood perfectly for John Ray's second collection for Gucci, with dewy-eyed young Byrons wearing clothes of such sumptuous simplicity they evoked the rigor and chic of the original dandy Beau Brummel.

Ray claimed backstage that it was more of an Italian connection he'd been after, so he and his team studied Visconti films: The Leopard, The Damned, and especially a segment Visconti directed for Boccaccio '70, which helped inspire the collection's color scheme of black, white, and, most hauntingly, a silvery gray that, in a velvet jacket over full corduroy trousers, had the sheen of moth's wings.

The show itself played as a kind of journey, from the city (outstanding coats, including a greatcoat in black wool, another in a mushroomy astrakhan) to the country (quilted leathers, tweed suits and trench coats, and a capacious weekend bag made from a Gucci-striped horse blanket) and back again (formal eveningwear, midnight-blue velvet smoking jackets).

The common thread was an uncompromising luxe: there was nothing worn, distressed, or sauvage anywhere in sight. The haunted urgency of the young models, their necks swaddled in long scarves, may have suggested Romantic poets, but Ray insisted it was purity, rather than romance, he wanted to convey.

He got both.