Walter Van Beirendonck's irresistible show opened with the sartorial sleekness of a slimly tailored suit, shirt, and tie, all in pale gray. The same outfit in dark gray closed the presentation, but by this time, it had grown a huge green coat swathed in thick fringe. "Classic men's fabrics clashed with fantasy things"—that was WVB's own description. The collision of opposites produced progressively more colorful and extreme ideas. First, that initial narrow, monochrome proposition became infected with bold patches of print, then side seams sprouted buttons that, when undone, turned jackets and knitwear into ponchos and capes. Then came the big, brash volume of the fringed finale. "The clothes almost grew on the catwalk," said the designer.

The rhythm—from restraint to release—was echoed on Walter's sweater, which read "Something Big is Coming," with the "i" in "Big" depicted by something he called a friendship symbol. Hand-on-heart human bonds formed the soul of a collection that has never shied away from big humanist statements in the past. All the models were black Africans found in a street casting. They could easily have been drawn from the global fraternity of sport with their uniform suits, their stripy scarves, even the mascot-worthy fringed coats.

Maybe it was the silhouettes, maybe it was the models. This was a more elegant outing for WVB than his recent shows with their bombs and bears. Men in skirts have never looked more quietly chic. But Walter still likes to show his teeth. Here, they were shark fangs, brilliantly painted on faces, to match the shark-shaped knapsack. You see, WVB understands that not everything in this life can be about peace, love, and understanding.