Riccardo Tisci returned today to the venue of his first Givenchy outing of a year ago. That show was roundly trounced by critics, but buyers found things to like in it, especially his beyond-the-ordinary white shirts. Last season's black dresses were also a hit, and increasing sales have given the young Italian confidence. "I'm trying to do my own story," he said backstage.

For spring—his all-important third collection—that meant ethnic geometries, which were part of Givenchy's oeuvre, and fetish accents, which are Tisci's own. The elements of tribalism that surfaced in his July couture presentation appeared here as batik-style prints on draped and folded silk jerseys, patent-leather breastplates, and animal-like fringe on a long series of black dresses. The show's circular motif proved both decorative, in the form of cutouts below the neckline, and practical, as in the holes through which the ends of waist-cinching belts were looped. As for the dog collars, striped stockings, and strappy, hobbling footgear that accessorized all this—well, it made for provocative theater.

Was this another step in the right direction? One answer will come when the collection arrives in stores a few months from now. The things you'll likely see there are a double-breasted jacket with passementerie detailing, a white denim trench, and more of those black dresses, each one with a new bodice detail. But there are also several elements that you won't come across, like the dresses with arching cutouts that revealed the upper thigh or—say it isn't so—union suits. Tisci remains on the upward slope of his learning curve, and he still has some climbing to do.