There was something deliberately rough-and-ready about the way Junya Watanabe knocked together raw-edged ruffled cotton blouses and peasant dirndls, and hammered on zippers and snaps in place of decoration in his spring collection. "Like the huts in Dover Street Market" was his gnomic explanation. That reference—if it helps—is to the shantytown shacks installed by Watanabe's mentor, Rei Kawakubo, in Comme des Garçons' new London department store.

Though Watanabe might have been aiming at the impression of spontaneous, artistic use of humble materials, there was plenty of complexity—and an eye for current trends—to be found. The deeply encrusted gold zipper necklines and patches of silver snaps on vests and boleros were distant relatives of the widespread Asiatic folk-embroidery tribe. Long, gathered skirts, cream lace, and poet sleeves were perfectly in step with themes that are cropping up all over this season.

What's particularly personal is Watanabe's romanticism, and his persistent use of those dippy frayed edges. Can't hold it against him, though: After all, this is the man who, two winters ago, originated ragged-edged tweed—a trend that went mega, at every possible level, this year. Not surprisingly, then, audiences tend to cling to Watanabe's every thread for novel ideas. Though this collection didn't wield the seismic potential of a few winters ago, it had a charm all its own.