Julien David might have had the art project of the season. He decided he wanted control over all elements of the show experience, not just the clothing. He'd been inspired, he said, by the German idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, the "total work of art" popularized by the noted Teutonic control freak Richard Wagner, for which a creator handles all artistic elements of a piece, from sight to sound and everything in between.

So David cobbled together all the disparate strands that go into a show himself. He tapped his friend, the New York-based artist Antoine Wagner, to work with him on an animated film to project as the models walked. He commissioned an a cappella set of screaming rap by the experimental West Coast hip-hop duo Death Grips for the soundtrack. And he street-cast the models, as usual, for maximum you've-never-seen-this-guy-before effect. (Unless you happened to be from Seoul, in which case you might have known show opener Ryoo Seung-bum as a major Korean movie star.) It was a spectacle of sound and vision. "I wanted to make it more theatrical," David said. "It's at night."

But as they say, if you want to make God laugh, make a plan. That night, a mere hour later, two other old friends, a designer and an artist—Raf Simons and Sterling Ruby—debuted a total work of art of their own. It was destined to dominate the headlines, and deservedly so. But fortunately for David, his collection stood on its own without the spectacle. The spectacle may, in fact, have whittled away a bit at what's best about his clothes—the fanatical attention paid to the fabrics and details, belied by their slackerish style. Here, David exerted a greater degree of control than ever before over the fabrics, teasing the threads of jersey sweats into tangly clouds of faux shearling, and even guiding the crinkle of his crinkled cotton suiting with machine stitching. The densely woven jacquard suit in Froot Loops colors was a minor masterpiece of muchness. It suggested that as brain rattling as the Gesamtkunstwerk turned out to be, David's complete work of artistry may be best appreciated on the garment level.