Michael Bastian is out to bite the hand that feeds him. "I hate that when people talk about American style, they mean preppy style," he said last night. Last season, he stripped American menswear down to swaggering sexiness. This season, he blackened it into goth. "Trying to find the goth corner of our guy," is how he put it. He traded his Sunday-morning show slot for one after dark, and left the well-lighted rooms of Milk Studios for a lonelier aerie not far from Penn Station. Though the catchall "preppy" is still applied liberally to Bastian and his collections, he's more interested in the corners and subcultures hiding therein.

His goths wore swoops of eye liner and more black than has ever been seen in a Bastian show. They'd been inspired by the creepy Maine pastorals painted by Andrew Wyeth, given a cult-y eighties spin. Think American Gothic meets American goth, and you're not far off.

Where does a loner shop in the great state of Maine? Bastian imagined him trawling vintage stores, hunting stores (hence the camo and hunter orange), and Walmart. Where at one of those outlets he got the Audemars Piguets, also styled into the show, is anyone's guess.

Competing with last season's standout Fire Island collection was going to be a challenge, if not an outright impossibility. So to say that Fall didn't match its predecessor is barely a complaint. It did bring a sinister new edge to the collection, one that will be interesting to see develop. But Bastian can't smother his nicer instincts. For all the talk of goth, his beloved Stubbs & Wootton slippers were still sprinkled among the stomping boots. Yes, the guys glowered, and yes, the creepy motifs of blackbirds and wolves (especially coupled with fur scarves and gloves that looked freshly scalped) said goth, by way of Game of Thrones. But it was the Beatles' sweet "Blackbird" that was playing before the show. And the signs posted at the entrance of the venue offered a warning that was almost comically considerate: "Disclosure: Please Note that the Space Is Scented." It tempted you to say about Bastian what would be anathema to any of his goths: What a nice, well-brought-up young man.