Only Jean-Charles de Castelbajac could create a collection called Foxy Lady and proceed to include a print of John Everett Millais' drowning Ophelia. But she didn't actually rear her half-submerged head until toward the end of the show, which began on a comparatively tame note with a houndstooth wool suit and a black bustier top. A colorless scheme continued for the next dozen looks and allowed de Castelbajac to move through several motifs without causing heads to spin—which they nearly did upon registering the tartan minidress fronted with an enormous fox head, its ears extending up past the shoulders. Fantastic, indeed.

It also took a moment to identify all the metal bits patterned across a knit jacquard: razor blades, barbed wire, nuts and bolts, pliers. The braided jacquard was equally dynamic. By the time the collection transitioned into color, de Castelbajac had proven he was back on his game. He admitted as much after the show: "I've fallen in love with fashion again." The comment was as telling for what he didn't say.

But he didn't really need to say much more. In a new twist to his signature blanket dresses, de Castelbajac designed the strap to look like a scarf that had been effortlessly tossed over the shoulder. The openwork around the edges of his wide-sleeve tops resembled clockwork. The white ringed collars came close to being clerical (the show took place in a chapel). Speaking of crosses, a black one concealed the face of a red-haired maiden on a full-length caftan. Ophelia gasped from a motorcycle jacket, its collar neatly rolled down and secured, and then she floated across an accordion-pleated skirt.

In a season so dominated by black and white, de Castelbajac's intense reds—whether on a dyed fur shrug, jumpsuit, or draped satin gown—and Pre-Raphaelite print had a stimulating effect. "Sometimes words are stronger than technology," the four-decade fashion veteran explained of his desire to parlay poetry into a wearable statement. At that point, it almost didn't matter that the snap-on spats occasionally came loose from their studded heels. Technical difficulty, that's all.