Kai Kühne's work has sometimes been upstaged by dramatics in his personal life. But if there was any drama today, it was in the clothes: They were impeccable. "I've learned a lot from people's judgment of my designs, and my behavior," said the designer, whose breakup with As Four was much discussed in the fashion media. "And the result is that I filtered everything down to the purest sense of what I am about."

What he is about, judging by today's outing, is spare elegance. It was easy to imagine Lisa Fonssagrives—or those Robert Palmer girls—in Kühne's combination of fifties and eighties elements. He cited Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger as a reference, but there was no tinge of vintage. Instead, there was a strictness of tailoring on, for instance, a seamed cocktail dress (which, in passing, revealed a geometric span of the back) that felt subtle and right for the times. Shoulders were strong and molded, as on a crisp white shirt worn with black pants, and coats were angular and asymmetric. Only the basket-weave pieces broke the purity of the line. The show was held among the clouds, in the Glass House at the top of the Chelsea Arts Tower, but Kühne demonstrated that his feet are planted on terra firma.