A little bit country(side), a little bit rock 'n' roll. For Fall, half-Welsh, half-Scottish Julien Macdonald recast his roots—i.e., kilts and dancing jackets—for a goth-inclined, rock concert-attending lass. Which is fair. But let's just get it out of the way: A moody, ethereal, and hard-edged take on the tartan-heavy Highlands is territory that was famously and exquisitely trod by the late Alexander McQueen.

Then a lean black sweater dress with its sleeves and hems dissolving into lace emerged out of the darkness in the spookily beautiful setting of an old deconsecrated church, and you were reminded of Macdonald's serious skill with all things knit. There were some real beauties here. They came webby and delicate like layers of ebony spiderwebs, or, on the flip side, in thickly cabled and heathery-hued Aran, which was spliced together with black leather and goat hair for some terrific jackets and a sort of twinset. Just the thing to keep you warm when the only other thing you're wearing is a tiny satin and lace mini.

Therein lies the point of difference. Even with tougher edge and a head-banging soundtrack, Macdonald cannot dispense with sex and glamour, which was evident in the crystal-beaded dresses pieced with gold lace that closed the show. To his credit, he moderated the look with dusty muted colors, frayed edges, and enough fabric to be worn outside the boudoir, a relief to those who recall his barely there Spring show.