"I was thinking of the ski world, and the scuba world," said Riccardo Tisci. "And the colors of the Bauhaus." True, his collection incorporated snowflake-patterned knits; neoprene diving fabric; and black, red, and beige as a color code. But the way he melded those materials into his collection spoke more of this Fall's reworking of the aesthetics of the nineties, personalized with Tisci's taste for high-drama Parisian glamour. Sporty piste- cum surfwear this definitely was not.

A better way of looking at it was as one of the season's rechannelings of the work of Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela, two towering heroes of modern fashion design whose retirement from the scene has left a gaping hole in women's wardrobes. Tisci's tailoring, like Phoebe Philo's at Celine, is a way of filling that gap with sharp camel coats, tuxedo suits, and lean black pants. In Tisci's case, it's also accompanied by tape-bound throats; red glitter gloves, bags, and lips; and sexy workings of scarlet, black, and nude lace. That's all fully in line with his own gothic taste but also reminiscent of Margiela's styling, back in the long-lost day when "edgy" was the buzzword of the nineties.

The scuba-ski dynamic meant traditional alpine patterns reengineered into formfitting bodysuits, sunk into neoprene lower garments that unfurled at the waist by means of zippers (the look happens to cross-reference with a section of Nicolas Ghesquière's collection this Fall). For evening, the fold-down device was transposed to inform the shape of black velvet and satin evening shifts and tunics. To end with, Tisci returned to working with feathers—a feature he's made his own in his couture collections over several seasons. Last in the line: a puff of white ostrich on an organza T-shirt, paired with narrow black pants, poetically trailing a pair of diaphanous "wings" as it exited. It was quite beautiful—and then again, in spirit, inescapably Helmut Lang.