David Neville and Marcus Wainwright have mastered the art of the fashion event. Ellen Pompeo, Julianne Moore, and Gisele Bündchen in the front row sparked a pap frenzy. The show ran 45 minutes late (a respectable delay for designers bent on whipping up a frenzy of anticipation). But, whereas in the past their substance struggled to keep up with such a high style quotient, Neville and Wainwright upped their game this season and created clothes that combined wearability with a little conceptual heft.

For that we can credit the essential paradox in the collection. Though the clothes had a luxe quality that was new for Rag & Bone, they also suggested times as hard as the neckpiece of tiny, lethal spikes the models—male and female—were wearing. The monochrome palette, the combination of formalwear and utilitywear (most obvious in the vests that sat over coats and jackets), and the military references gave the collection a downbeat edge that was also—a further paradox—oddly romantic. This spirit culminated in a final outfit—an officer's coat over a tuxedo shirt with the collar turned up—that was positively Napoleonic (the styling was a big help). And that wasn't the only period reference: A cutaway gray flannel jacket and a double-breasted waistcoat had an Edwardian tinge. But it's hardly likely that the Rag & Bone man will have that in mind when he responds to a suit with a jacket trimmed in satin, or a cashmere coat in a deep purply-blue tone. He'll just be thinking elegance.