¿I¿m tired of mundane, everyday fashion,¿ declared Rei Kawakubo. ¿I¿m curious. I want something that takes us to another world.¿ She didn¿t mean another world as in futuristic sci-fi, but rather something that seemed to start with an exploration of the tender parts of the developing female psyche—which these days are usually stamped out before a girl is 10 years old. That, at least, was one reading of the Minnie Mouse hats and the tiny baby frocks sewn to the front of the violet and pink dresses that opened the show. They were sweet and playfully imaginative without being saccharine, and led to more tropes of childlike ingenuity: padded, appliquéd bows and flowers implanted on stretch dresses and, later, like an adolescent¿s dream of a virtual boyfriend, a pair of 3-D hands grasping the hips of a skirt.

Still, Comme des Garçons is the Rorschach test of fashion, so that may be just so much subjective speculation. In any case, just when you think you¿ve spotted a reference, Kawakubo reliably skews away from it. So it was with the rest of the show, in which she patched zones of synthetics onto velvet or menswear jackets and overlaid shine on matte—nothing very girlish about that. Nevertheless, those elements—natural/unnatural texture contrasts and Kawakubo¿s fresh and lovely combinations of red, pink, and mauve—succeeded in landing this resolute outsider¿s collection within the general conversations fashion is having with itself this Fall.