"I have been working on pretty, floaty, feminine for so long," said Australian designer Toni Maticevski, who played Edward Scissorhands in his sophomore New York effort, slashing away at conventional notions of beauty and proportion. "I felt I needed to add a bit more severity and grit."

You could see echoes of thirties Hollywood in the long, sinuous lines and the embroidered balloon sleeves. But the fragile allure of these details was willfully sabotaged: Underneath a delicate ivory bias gown with beaded blossoms, for example, was a bondage-style bathing suit.

Intent on exploring the darker facets of his talent, Maticevski refused to give the audience what it expected. A simple black cocktail dress with a twisted neckline stood out, as did a minidress dripping with antique jet. But the choreography—with models aggressively (and strangely) clutching at their hips—was bound to be jarring for viewers who, after last season, came expecting a garden party. And the padded, Popsicle-colored puffer gowns brought ¿freak legend¿ Leigh Bowery to mind. Maticevski, explaining these last as ¿blow ups¿ of the thirties bias look, remained defiant: ¿You either love them or you hate them,¿ he said. For many in the audience, you suspected, it was a case of the latter.