Take a huge, rough-hewn biker jacket, lash the seams with crude saddle stitching, and put it atop a delicate Swan Lake-worthy tutu. That was the startling collision of disparate elements at Comme des Garçons. "I thought about the power of the motorbike—the machine itself—and the strength of a ballet dancer's arms," Rei Kawakubo said. In other words, another chapter (Hell's Ballerinas, perhaps?) in her career-long philosophical investigation into women and strength.

Kawakubo's explanation clarified why the dancers' stiff leather or neoprene jackets were cut with rolled-up sleeves, and how their openwork inserts mimicked the cooler vents in a motorcycle engine, and why curviform foam-rubber seat-covers sometimes morphed into skirts. Done in black, tan, or orange, the jackets had the heft of a truly cool idea and made a strangely beautiful contrast with the fragile pinks and whites of the tutus.

Perhaps this collection was commenting on the resources a modern woman needs—speed, toughness, and rigorous self-discipline, for example. (Plus the wisdom of a judge, if that's what Kawakubo meant by those wacky powdered wigs.) Deep readings apart, there were certainly a couple of lovely, and pertinent, superficials: patent ballet flats and the bird-inspired feathery decorations on a couple of dance skirts.