After five years in New York, Helmut Lang returned to the same white space in Paris where he has sent out some of his finest collections—designs that changed the face of fashion. The atmosphere at the spring show was charged with nostalgia and anticipation. Would he hit those highs again?

The collection he showed was a case of revisiting the roots of his genre: layered T-shirt dressing, skinny pants, signature slim overcoats, abstracted prints, punky materials recontextualized. But time has passed. Since Lang has been in New York, his once raw, plugged-in connection to underground sources has been replaced by a quest for sophistication, expressed in abstract detailing and luxe materials. So the coats and pants got inserts or sleeves constructed of mesh, chiffon and leather. The T-shirts were often reduced to complex traceries of string. And there was cool white-beaded eveningwear, as a zippered dress or fragile jacket, intended to shine on a red carpet somewhere.

The change had to happen: as Lang well understands, minimalism is over, and his followers, like he is, are moving on. But that doesn't mean that they can't still be seduced by the designer's classic codes. Latex, bound and pieced into garments, hit just the right buttons, particularly in a pristine yellow-and-white-printed dress with a flip of the white stuff as its skirt.