It's only his second collection, but the weight of expectation is heavy on Thomas Tait's thin shoulders. The Canadian designer has the distinction of being the youngest to complete an M.A. at the hypercompetitive Central Saint Martins, which he did at 21. And shortly after debuting his collection last season in London, he beat out major talents like Mary Katrantzou and Louise Goldin to win the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize in October. All this without having wholesaled a single garment yet. Intrigued?

His show tonight was small, but populated with all the right faces. In a tight palette of black, ivory, and navy, Tait continued ideas he began to explore for Spring. After seeing the exquisitely made clothes and talking to the designer, you get the sense that his chosen elements, the almost scientifically precise cutaways and architectural tailoring, have been the subject of much thought and will continue to be. For instance, Tait doesn't use neoprene or other stiffer synthetics to get the rounded shoulder or subtle sculptural fullness on the sleeve of a high-collared wool coat. Instead, he works day and night with one assistant on his patterns. His coats—whether full and protected or lean and sliced away—had the most immediate appeal, but you had to admire the idea behind a stiff wool half-skirt, pinned open with two sort of lapels, over a knife-pleated silk skirt or slim pants.

Another first: Tait will be in Paris to sell his collection the week after next—though he's determined to proceed in a slow but sure manner. "I have an idea of the stores I want," he said. "But I don't want to get swamped in production." A word to the wise retailer: Get your appointment while you can. In this case, the high expectations look likely to be met.