It would be too easy to crack that Viktor & Rolf's Fall collection was fifty shades of gray. Too easy, but not inaccurate. Fall found the Dutch pair designing in a restricted palette that ranged mostly from black to white and in between; the few colors that caromed off the poles, like brown, slate green, and anthracite red, were mostly close relatives of gray. For color, the designers leaned instead on their countryman and collaborator, Piet Parra, the Dutch artist whose name is more familiar in street-wear circles, thanks to his own line, Rockwell. He'd never done runway fashion before, but when V & R came knocking, "I ended up being so enthusiastic, I made a ton of drawings," he said from his front-row perch at the show. The catwalk's backsplash was printed with his cannonballing bird-man drawing, which appeared as well on shirts, bags, and even a suit; his doodled letters and eyeglasses ran across the collection, too.

The drawings were wild, but the clothes themselves stayed a narrower course. They had less of the bombastic oddity we've come to expect from Viktor & Rolf—at least on the runway level. That's not to say there weren't smart bits of fluid tailoring, and a kicky bit of trompe l'oeil that came from quilted satin standing in for leather. And it's not to say that, all things considered, the collection wasn't all the better for the focus. What is Fifty Shades about, after all, but the pleasures of restraint?