They looked like an army of futuristic female automata, marching out in identical black-bowl wigs and black lipstick, some with their eyes blanked out by narrow slivers of wraparound sunglasses. The clothes they wore were equally uncompromising: stark planes of tweed, felt, and flocked fabric, precision-sliced into geometric angles and unfamiliar volumes.

It made one of the season's most joltingly dramatic contributions to the current dialogues about tailoring and austerity. If there were elements of the eighties or Italian futurism in there—like the banana-shaped high-waist pants or the curviform layers of scroll-like volumes in skirts—it wasn't Stefano Pilati's intention to be referential. "I just wanted it to be about cut, about looking at the clothes," he said. "I don't think you want to go out advertising a brand anymore. You just want to feel proud walking down the street."

That reductionism certainly had the force of conviction about it, and it threw up some fine pieces, like jackets with swaggering, flying tails and small-waisted dresses with geometric stand-out skirts. Something about the carapace stiffness of these garments, the sense that the clothes are molded rather than fitted, puts Pilati in line with other designers, like Nicolas Ghesquière, who are pushing fashion away from the body and toward something new. In Pilati's case, the impact—with its almost complete abnegation of romanticism and traditional femininity—was a shock. Still, fashion sorely needs those who dare, and this is a collection whose controversial content and implications will be discussed and dissected for months to come.