Pachelbel's Canon, even Brian Eno's version, isn't the sort of music you expect at a runway show. And a bucolic backdrop of rolling hills behind a catwalk that, in turn, was painted lawn green and elevated over a river of mint candies isn't the kind of setting you see every day of fashion week, either. But Marc Jacobs has such a surfeit of cool, he got away with both—and then some—at a spring show that was strangely beautiful (as ever), if a little esoteric.

Backstage, he was mum on literal inspirations, speaking instead of "light, kindness, peace, and generosity." The light part made a sort of sense. Jacobs' palette consisted of white, cream, black for contrast, and ombréd grays, with flashes of brilliant holographic sequins. And from a shirred tulle bomber jacket with a furlike appearance to a drop-waist tiered lace dress that evoked Poiret, there was a certain romance to the collection. Layered jersey tees, billowing brushstroke-stripe silk dresses, and deconstructed à la japonaise cashmeres had an appealing softness.

But was there substance beneath the whimsy? Many of these clothes—the Arabian Nights harem pants, for example, or the tulip pants that he showed unbuttoned up the side—will be a hard sell. On the other hand, the trio of understated-by-comparison T-shirt dresses and the bags—metallic leathers and exotic skins studded with crystals as big as the bulbs on an old Times Square marquee—should keep the faithful happy. Those items are the grounding forces that allow Jacobs to indulge his flights of fancy.