It's not just the radical shift in proportion, from pipe-cleaner to Oxford bags. Something of greater significance seems to be changing for Hedi Slimane. Following his show, he admitted to a new mood of melancholy. The staging certainly supported such a notion. His boys—all thin as usual, some now fearfully attenuated—walked in shadows, illuminated by a pillar of fire that burned biblically at the end of the runway throughout the presentation.

Whatever the deeper symbolism, Slimane is certainly in a reflective frame of mind. He talked about a return to the couture concept with which he launched his career (phoenix to the flame?), and the precision and detailing of his clothes were a tribute to the handiwork of his atelier. Nothing displays such skills better than eveningwear; was that why Slimane's collection was dominated by variations on Le Smoking? It made for an intriguing tip of the cap to Yves Saint Laurent, the master in whose footsteps he once followed.

Such clothes also seemed designed to appeal to Hedi's female clientele, most obviously items like a beaded bolero, a tiny gilet with kimono sleeves, or a jacket that turned to reveal a beaded, ruched back. Perhaps that's his way of announcing he's ready to stretch a little. Still, there were plenty of items that were unmistakably from a man's wardrobe: a tweed topcoat, a duffel with braided closings, a pinstriped suit, a black leather blouson. Meanwhile, the formal details—the satin waistband on a pair of trousers, pearl buttons on a shirt, the ribbons tied at the throat—were balanced by the waistband of old jeans worn as a grunge cummerbund.