The cleanup act that Christian Siriano began exactly a year ago continued this season. In fact, this was quite easily his most subdued and streamlined collection to date. His inspiration was the 1933 film Vampire Bat. "The funny thing is that it's this quirky horror film," Siriano explained backstage. "But Fay Wray is just so glamorous and stunning in the whole movie." Still, Siriano laid out his aim as simplicity with a focus on the details, and thus took a light hand at translating his source material. Nothing read overly retro, though a quick glance at the black-and-white film on YouTube did show Wray in a sheath with a ruffled collar like one Siriano showed.

Rather, from it he extracted his moody, tough palette of barely there grays and blacks, with measured doses of deep red. (The dense and fuzzy abstract print he showed in a bang-on-trend look of printed blouse tucked into matching soft silk trousers, as well as a simple circle-skirted dress, was meant to look like TV static.) A black satin sheath had an inverted widow's peak neckline, while the tube-like embroidery on a satin dress and the stamped print on a motorcycle jacket had a swirly motif Siriano dubbed "bat vein." He likened the pretty caped sleeves on dresses and gowns to wings.

This is probably the first time that Siriano hasn't included a showstopper gown, the kind that gets his adoring audience clapping and on its feet. That restraint did him well. There were at least three here that were quite chic. In a recent New York Times profile, the former reality TV star talked about his struggle to be accepted by the fashion industry. Interestingly, he mentioned that his simpler fare—things that the industry and his stylist seem to prefer—doesn't sell as well as when he lays on the drama. It's possible that some of his clientele may find this collection less to their taste. If that critical approval is essential, surely there's a balance. Or he could just be himself.