For Viktor & Rolf, the backstory is at least half the fun. Case in point: their gimmick-laden new menswear. The collection was called Anti-dote (just like V&R's new men's fragrance), and according to a preprepared statement, it advocated "escape from reality, escape from fashion, while also recognizing that there is no escape."

They took that theme fairly literally. The chains of an escapologist trimmed the lapel of a jacket, trailed through belt loops, and appeared as a print on a T-shirt. And the straps of the straitjacket that bound Houdini when he was dunked in a trunk were duplicated in the latticework of a leather blouson.

Just in case "escape but no escape" sounded too futile, there was also a subtext of "transformation, rebellion and freedom." The rebellion was expressed in graffiti tags, a bit of a stretch for the bespectacled Dutchmen. The idea of transformation, meanwhile, brought V&R back to magic, more-familiar ground for them. A jacket looked as though it had been sawed in half, then stitched back randomly by a mad magician. Perhaps he was the same illusionist who would choose to perform in the shimmery Jacquard tux.