Vika Gazinskaya has a small fear of tattoos, but that didn't stop her from positioning them throughout her Fall collection. They appear as vintage emblems, with both "Vika" and "Viktory" on scrolls wrapping around hearts or held up by multicolored swallows. Last week, the Russian designer learned she's among the finalists for the generous LVMH Prize (which will be awarded for the first time in May), so the motif could prove self-fulfilling. But in any case, she staggered them judiciously enough—here on a gray felt baseball cap, there as a trompe l'oeil effect on a stretch bodysuit—that they didn't steal attention from the collection's other strong elements. Strongest of all: the almond-shaped shoulder cutouts that transformed a high-necked sweatshirt or blouse into a vaguely 1950s look. Think Roman Holiday redux. Gazinskaya extended this sensibility to a soft-washed wool dress and pleated tapered pants. Then she pushed it from nostalgic to new with an oversize, ruffled gingham placket tunic dress and a bell-shaped shearling vest hand-painted an ombré surf green.

The tattooed "Vika" lettering, by the way, has one additional meaning: a nod to the influential Russian rock artist Viktor Tsoi, who died in 1990 at the age of 28. Gazinskaya said she kept returning to his Soviet poetry on love and death. Such overarching themes were barely obvious in her nuanced collection—although the shimmery, champagne-hued tattoo dress did signal a certain desire to lay everything bare. It conveyed the sophisticating of an ingenue.