With her subdued, dark show, Veronique Branquinho joined a growing group of designers using the tuxedo as a fall leitmotif. Trust the Belgian designer not to play it straight, though. At the beginning, a model came out in tails and men's trousers, a delicate silver chain strung across the lapels serving as the look's one womanly touch. By the end, she had a model wearing a slim, knee-length black skirt, the back of which resembled the bottom of that earlier tail coat. And in between, there were plenty more of these intriguing if sometimes overly fussy conceits: an elongated striped vest over matching pants that looked more like an apron dress from behind; neckties made from shining chain mail; and satin girdles topping button-down shirts and peeking out above boyish pants.

The play between masculine and feminine is hardly unfamiliar territory for Branquinho. For her men's show in January, she presented his and her versions of trench coats, furs, and Aran knits. So it was surprising that the fit was sometimes off, as it was on a standup-collar cropped jacket and a pair of elaborate pants with part of a vest seemingly attached at the waistband like a sort of makeshift cummerbund. Where she looked more assured was with her fine knits and a pair of silk velvet dresses, one in emerald, the other champagne, the back zippers of which were shown provocatively unzipped. They weren't complicated, and that's what made them so sexy.