The Gucci girl’s got legs—long, tan, flawless ones striding along on silver peep-toe sling-back pumps. Follow them all the way up, and around two weeks later, they eventually meet the hem of the minutest piece of clothing that was ever called a skirt or dress. For spring, in a word, Tom Ford says short.

Using lustrous fabrics in subtle makeup colors from blush to tawny brown, pearly gray and silver, Ford draped and wrapped his gorgeous girls in clothes that navigated that dangerous Gucci line between innovation and vulgarity. The tousled hair, the jackets and tops poised to fall off shoulders—the whole presentation stirred sensations that fashion hasn’t felt since the last days of the great supermodels.

Still, don’t think tacky. Ford’s obsession now is integrating fine workmanship into abbreviated silhouettes. He took the idea of a kimono and portrayed it first as a simple silk beach cover-up, then as an elegant formfitting dress, painstakingly made from hand-painted strips of silk. He brought couture finesse to racer-back feathered dresses with the merest flip of a skirt. And with lightest touch, he wove white and rose gold into fragile ribbons to tie around wrists—the most modern-looking jewelry in Milan. When Carmen Kass closed the show in a dress made entirely of the same precious ribbon, it was a confident statement in the power of glamour. And fashion needs that.