With any other designer, you'd expect a show described as the collision of Japonisme with Mick Rock's iconic glam-rock photographs of David Bowie and Queen to be a pretty over-the-top affair. But in the house that Susan Dell built, clothes are a serious business, both aesthetically and otherwise. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. The "I want that in my closet" appeal of Phi designer Andreas Melbostad's Fall collection was excitement enough.

Backstage after the show, Melbostad talked about revisiting and repositioning utilitarian wardrobe staples like the duffel coat, the trench, and the biker jacket—sensible words to anyone who knows how most women shop. He recast these classic items with tightened, elongated silhouettes in an edgy dark palette of mostly black, navy, and gray. To keep boredom at bay, the designer created subtle textural interest, mixing tactile fabrics like leather, knits, shearling, and a nubby alpaca wool. Proportion and layering were also part of the story: Sleeveless hooded coats were worn over sweaters and pin-tucked shirtdresses.

Suede vests hinted at Rock's louche seventies. Elsewhere, a Japanese stencil print subtly flashed from a dress worn under a massive toggle-buttoned cardigan. Melbostad's show is often criticized as being repetitive, but in a season with more than 200 collections, it's a relief to see a designer whose message is Baccarat clear.