The DJs at fashion shows are usually early adopters of the Next Big Thing, so keen ears have spent the season waiting for a burst of Burial. Raf Simons and his sound man Michel Gaubert saved it for (almost) last—when it actually meant the most—as the soundtrack for the designer's signature exaltation of the urgency of youth. Post-show, Simons talked about focusing on the moment in a young man's life when he's beginning to define himself. Hence, the show's emphasis on the body, in tops as wrapped and seamed as Alaïa's (or The Mummy's). But as he closes in on 40, Simons' absorption in the turbulent emotions of men almost two generations younger inevitably acquires an elegiac tinge—the music of Burial is scarcely a glass-half-full proposition, to put it mildly.

That melancholic note was where the show came alive, because it offered Simons an opportunity to get roots-y. "Earthy" was actually the word he used. It applied to jackets made from jute to the slubbed texture of wool suits to a woven pattern that looked like soil strata, and to a carroty orange that accented somber tones of gray. The same intense shade was incorporated into another jacket that toned upward from ashen gray hem to fiery shoulder (the buttons changing color, too), like a phoenix from the flames. An ingenious sartorial metaphor for reinvention ("or eternal damnation," joked Simons' right-hand man Robbie Snelders).

Other states of mind were suggested by one jacket with fabric bunched and creased around its waist, another with a funnel-neck wired shut, or a sweater that looked like a Mark Rothko painting (well, there's a state of mind right there). The shoes, on the other hand, anchored the models to the ground in the earthiest way. As thick-soled as a creeper, they came croc-stamped or webbed and ready to kick out the jams. "You're only young once," they said. Sad, but true.