According to Italo Zucchelli, he'd designed Calvin Klein's Fall menswear with one clear function in mind: protection. The heavily padded coats and blousons, the weighty fabrics, even the shoes with shock-absorber soles added a ton of substance to the collection, at the same time as they allowed Zucchelli to make a major silhouette statement—round versus lean. The contrast was cartoon-graphic. It also made the collection Zucchelli's strongest in a while. The functionality pointed to the kind of character-rich subtext the designer excels at. His men often suggest American archetypes (which is appropriate, given Calvin Klein's place in U.S. fashion). Here, it was diverting to imagine the new Calvin man as blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth, maybe just back from a war somewhere, wearing his demob suit while he job-hunts. And there was Zac Efron, solid and suited in the front row, his marine buzz cut making him the physical embodiment of the notion.

Was that an echo of the 1940's? The 2040's? Such retro-futurism is why the movie Gattaca is such an easy cross-reference for Zucchelli. Chasing an urban noir vibe, the designer used a palette of concrete, rust, steel, loden, and shadow. He actually called one color "gotham." The square cut of the jackets, the deeply pleated pants, full in the thigh, would have suited the wardrobe of that film-noir standby, the private detective. So would a belted trench with storm flaps. But Zucchelli's fascination with fabric tech means his private tec could have stepped out of the future as much as the past.

There was a final flourish that allowed the mind to run away with that forties fantasy one last time. Instead of satin, shiny tape trimmed a tuxedo lapel and the seams of a trouser leg. You could almost imagine Zac—in character, of course—dressing up his best black suit in this way, while his girl drew a line down her leg with eyebrow pencil to duplicate seamed stockings. You've seen such glamorous home economy in old movies, right? Irresistible!