Did someone press play on In the Mood for Love? Following stylistic jaunts to the Philippines and Mongolia, Josie Natori alighted on the latest destination in her globetrotting design itinerary: Shanghai and Paris in the 1930s. It was chinoiserie with all the original glamour attached to the term, and none of the accrued kitsch.

Natori expressed her theme through lavish embellishments and surface treatments. Pale gold-embroidered dragons traversed trouser legs and evening gowns. A textured, dragon-patterned jacquard based on the design of an imperial robe formed a kimonolike coat and pencil skirt. Lacquered cabinetry from the era yielded steamy floral prints, and the formal tradition behind jade carvings infused the stiff obi belts cinched over cowl-necked dresses.

The collection stopped short of cheongsams, but only just. If chinoiserie was more literally treated than past themes, it's because it's "so much what the yin and yang of Natori is—strong, sexy, powerful," Natori said. But the treatment and styling gave it real modern gloss—right down to the models' marcel-waved hair.