Without a mastodon to club, storytelling is the oldest way to snare an audience. The story Yohji Yamamoto told this time around provided a vital focus for his design. It helped him quite literally trim away the superfluous volume that has recently been something of a bête noire, and it added a topical poignancy that made the collection the strongest he has shown in years.

War is an inescapable fact of contemporary life. Yohji chose to address it with a subtle narrative thread that dealt with a soldier's homecoming, using classic Dylan numbers to soundtrack the journey. The opening passages offered clothes that hinted at aggression: combat pockets and bondage zips on pants, military detailing, a red crisscross motif on shirts that looked like an attenuated cross of St. George. Then came doves printed on jackets and pants. Shades of sky blue suggested optimism and escape. T-shirts bore the messages "Feel Like Being Home" and "I Shall Be Released," and there were pieces that looked slightly stained by age, as though they'd been stored in a trunk for someone who'd been away for a while. Toward the end of the show, Yohji retreated to the voluminous black cupro jackets and trousers that have been his signature for too long—an "evening" group featured a semi-Edwardian cutaway jacket over a waistcoat and white shirt. But otherwise, one of the freshest facets of this collection was a generally leaner cut. "Optimism!" Yohji cried backstage, and who could deny that?