The padded, blue-haired boys who closed James Long's show looked more like extraterrestrial approximations of humans than actual Homo sapiens. To which you could only say: Mission accomplished. Long's subject matter this season was cosplay (short for "costume play"), the semi-obscure pastime of elaborately costumed sci-fi fandom. It's big, as you might expect, in Japan, where Long sources some of his fabrics, and a recent trip there reminded him of days gone by when he used to visit sci-fi conventions in the company of his former boss, Virginia Bates. Bates is better known as the doyenne of London vintage, a onetime supplier of Galliano and Madonna, but she was also a bit-part actress in such television shows as Doctor Who.

Long comes by it honestly, in other words. While his fellow Londoners dredge up country life and public school days for inspiration, the gears of his memory turn on an odder crank. But the cult of cosplay is, when you think of it, just another fashion movement, and its taste for zippy futurism dovetails nicely with Long's own. His dark, ultra-detailed patchwork pieces came in the usual variety of abstract patterns and scrawls, and he introduced a mesh-patterned jacquard that had the look of denim. But the primary innovation for the season was to bubble many of the jackets and pants with irregular quilting. (The complete lack of shirts in the show made the outfits look even more like space suits than they might have otherwise.) They had a striking, goose-pimpled eeriness that was an interesting riposte to Long's usual brand of aerodynamic sleek. The innovation that the runway didn't show was that they're all fully reversible. Turned inside out, the jackets betrayed only a faint shadow through mesh of their gurgly cores. Which meant that, like the cosplayers, Long's customers can choose to be wild one day, mild the next. That fact helped mitigate the gambit that was the collection's laser focus. After all, it's nice to have a little something to wear home once the convention ends.