Fresh off a partnership with Mikimoto in which he created a line of nontraditional pearl jewelry, Yohji Yamamoto debuted another high-profile collaboration on his Fall runway: leather portfolio bags made in unison with Hermès. The avant-garde Japanese designer betrayed an interest in old-line French luxury-goods houses last year at this time when he did his own tongue-in-cheek riff on the Louis Vuitton logo. But Yamamoto fans shouldn't worry that aligning himself with an established brand like Hermès means he's gone straight. On the contrary: It sparked an interest in manipulating leather (not to mention a horse-print motif) to his own ends, and got him thinking about novel ways to approach some of his best-loved tropes.

First up were his familiar hard-soft jackets. The aforementioned leather—most often in black, but also in shades of orange and blue, and always with unfinished raw edges—met tailored wool or draped jersey to create appealing toppers that had a new languidness. These, like the more structured peplum jackets in charcoal gray and colorful tweeds that followed, were paired with the long, full skirts Yamamoto loves. The latter, it must be said, were made even more challenging than usual by the girth-extending extra rolls of fabric at the waistband. Still, the show ended on a high note, with a quintet of models wearing smart, long coats in khaki or navy (some of them tossed over the back and suspended from built-in straps), each girl carrying one of those fab Hermès portfolios.

If any more proof was needed that Yamamoto still marches to his own beat, it came over the loudspeakers: The guitarist whose taped recording accompanied the show was none other than the designer himself.