Wolfgang Joop is in some ways a prisoner of his name. The inspired Wunderkind collection Joop showed today in the tents deserved a fresh look, with an eye unbiased by the designer's first heyday, in the eighties and nineties. It was truly an exercise in sophisticated, highly accomplished design. Though Joop is no longer emerging, his collection is, with its progression in crescendo.

That is not to say that it was perfect. It suffered from a surfeit of ideas and, in passionate, operatic moments of layered flou, edged into Stevie Nicks territory. The standout moments, like a white canvas pantsuit worn by Tiiu Kuik, compensated for the weaker links.

Post-show, the designer talked about his lasting attachment to the painters Jean-Antoine Watteau and Gustav Klimt and their "hunger for upper-class romance." The idea of appetite took interesting form in the collection, which picked up on the tablecloth theme making its way through New York fashion week. The finale dress of lace silk was cut like a circular table cover, Joop explained, though it's not obvious at first glance. And dimensional cuffs referenced eighteenth-century napkin-stuffed sleeves.

Table linens aside, menswear was also a strong theme worked into the show via striped shirtings, tie silks, baggy proportions, and fantastic pleat-front shirtdresses. It was the perfect antidote to romance, which was present everywhere, and a nice counterpoint to lace-front and embroidered Romanian-style blouses, as was an English-rose print worked into long dresses with intricate braiding insets. Wunderkind (with the awkward growing pains behind him), indeed.