The show might have been his swan song at Nina Ricci, but Olivier Theyskens saw it through with a fierce, surreal poetry no one who witnessed it will forget. Vastly tall, his strong-shouldered women were walking, trancelike, on what looked like an impossibility: a laced-up platform ankle boot with a sickle-shaped hole at the back. No heels at all. Their clothes—everything from strangely flowing pants to incredibly cut suits to probably the best black leather jacket in Paris and evening dresses with swooping, furling skirts—were a tour de force. Between the strange atmosphere, the supersharp, almost Mugler-esque jackets, and the sculpted forms, it rounded up everything fashion-watchers have known Theyskens is capable of, and went even further.

"I was thinking of a nocturnal mood," he said backstage, trying to explain how he'd orchestrated it. "Not nightclubbing at all. Something moonlit—a bit magical." Oddly enough, it wasn't melancholy and never lapsed into the costumey gothic mindset Theyskens once inhabited. Instead, the collection was a proud—if not exactly defiant—series of reminders of the chic, precise way he used to cut a jacket when he was running his own line, a flashback to the corseted lingerie he perfected at Rochas, and an underscoring of the genius he has applied to making grand event dresses during his tenure at Ricci. Backstage, Theyskens was gracious and smiling as he received sincere congratulations for an outing that showcased all his talents, offered many things for many women to wear for many occasions, and was thereby the most mature and salable collection he's designed to date. Quite why he saved his best till last is a mystery, but Ricci's management may just be kicking itself for letting him go.