"It's the first time I've made girls sexy," said Neil Barrett
as he steered visitors around his installation in a Left Bank gallery. What he meant was that his collection of womenswear was no longer a straight gender-bending crossover from his men's collection. Barrett used the same hybrid theme as his men's show, but a peacoat front attached to a biker jacket back actually seemed like a more workable proposition for women because of his mastery of shape. Likewise the tube skirt with the peacoat upper half. Barrett is a true believer in black and white monochrome, but he's equally convinced that it is only leather that can make monochrome come alive, so the collection made full use of skins. There was a half-leather, half-melton coat; an oversize leather tee that could do double duty as a dress; and leather pants backed with jersey, which were, Barrett said, the consummate combination of texture and tightness. (The versions in stretch python came a very close second.) The designer's love of a second-skin fit means his womenswear isn't kind. That is simply a reflection of the punk crucible in which Barrett's aesthetic was formed: His tees with the Nick Cave graphic certainly testified to his affection for the bad old days. But there were still some exceptional pieces—like the sleeveless shearling gilet or the washed-leather biker jacket with a luxuriantly quilted lining—that offered enticement to those who aren't as wand-slender as Barrett himself.