Helmut Lang based his collection on dragonflies. What set him off, he said before the show, was "the lightness of structure, the iridescent color." Whatever his references, they always become meshed into the recognizable House of Lang signatures: pared-away structures; straps; bits and pieces of T-shirts; and tailoring. That was all apparent in an opening section of layered beige and white, with delicate bandages loosely wrapping pants, and holey T-shirts under a few of his slim suits.

Last season's shadow of militaristic strictness and aggression has lifted. In place of the darkness, there are complex but abbreviated shapes and a concentration on working with color—brick red, beige, purple, and green, with sudden flashes of reflective materials and slithery, synthetic translucencies. Some of Lang's abstracted forms have become far removed from any recognizable function. Odd hip-slung devices came with metallic protrusions on one side, tied on with jersey wraps. Other garments looked like upside-down sweaters, dangling in place of skirts.

His best silhouettes were tiny, formfitting knit dresses with a contrasting underlayer of sheer, shiny fabric that escaped in miniscule gathered flips. In the end, though, for all the lightness and sensitivity of color in this collection, Lang's imagination has drifted into obsessing over aesthetic details. In the old days, grown women used to cry over how his pants, tanks, jackets, and coats offered such coolly simple solutions for everyday dressing. Now, for all the vision of beauty he presents, there's a sense that they're left on the sidelines, pining.