Last season, Maison Martin Margiela juxtaposed the masculine and the feminine to confounding results—the girls looked like sandwich boards had been stuffed down their suits and evening gowns. The Fall collection, which was a more satisfying experience, was all about a dress, but if that sounds like a simpler proposition, you've come to the wrong place. The MMM dresses seemed to be peeling off their models like old wallpaper. A red one early on was unzipped up the side to reveal a patent skirt a shade darker. The green one that followed was unsnapped at the waist, offering a glimpse of a white leather skirt with a stamped hem. The theme continued as the show progressed. For evening they showed a lace-edged negligée printed trompe l'oeil-style on uncut panels of black silk, or a rumpled silk dress seemingly tossed over one shoulder of a marled gray sweatshirt and rabbit fur skirt (it must've been some party).

All those layers meant the fit was sometimes quite bulky. It made you wish they'd unzip the top layer completely and get at what was underneath, and maybe even peel off the drippy pantyhose they wore over their boots and shoes while they were at it. The underlying message of these unraveling women who walked in a circle at a glacial pace? There wasn't much time to ponder it before the fashion pack jumped out of its seats for the next show. Maybe the Margiela team was admonishing us all to slow down or deal with the repercussions. Then again, sometimes a dress is just a dress, even if it is coming apart at the seams.