As a city that has had its own taste of the apocalypse, New York was a fitting choice for the launch of Karl Lagerfeld's new collection, the first fruit of his deal with Tommy Hilfiger. There was an urgent bleakness to the presentation, which suggested a world on the brink. Lagerfeld himself claimed inspiration from shadowy Nordic notions like Isak Dinesen's gothic tales or the paintings of Edvard Munch. The clothes were uniformly dark, the boys clad in leggings, long johns, leathers, or waxy denims that made a streamlined counterpoint to the long, flowing skirts of the girls.

As the final show of New York fashion week, the collection appropriately distilled the season's key menswear trends: significant outerwear, military detailing, trenchcoats (here cropped into jackets), knitwear given textural interest (little gaping mouths were slashed into black wool). Viking motifs were stitched into sweaters, adding a warriors-in-the-wasteland edge to Lagerfeld's dystopian vision. An evening look showed up in a white-tie combination deconstructed as an asymmetrically shawl-collared shirt with attached vest pockets. Given that this label (called Karl Lagerfeld) is intended as a more "price-sensitive" collection, its dramatic point of view made it a welcome addition to the busload of college-boy-friendly second lines that other designers have offered throughout the week.