"It was a group of girls you'd see on the street in the early morning coming from a ball," explained Olivier Theyskens. His wispy raggle-taggle troupe was wending its way home in a particularly poetic state of dishevelment, of course. Their clothes were ombré-tinted in subtle grays and browns, as if smudged by the murky first light of a city day. The opening girl had pulled on her boyfriend's dusty tux, which had come apart at the back, over an artfully wilted twisted satin tunic. Others had draped sloppy, holey cardigans over the shredded remains of charmeuse and chiffon, trailing stringy feather boas as they walked. Some, possibly, were even down to their shirts or slips (you know how you start losing things on a long night out?), and one had wrapped a blanket—or maybe the dance-hall curtain—over her chiffon gown.

One shouldn't read too much into the narrative, though, because Theyskens doesn't come from the older generation of theme-led designers. Instead, this collection was a reassertion of his Belgian identity. It's as if he reached a fork in his career when he arrived at Nina Ricci, deciding to take the path of underground edginess rather than Parisian chic—a distinct divergence from the road he took at Rochas. Now his vision skews young and urban, and includes jodhpur-ish jeans, patchworked tour T-shirts, hip baseball jackets, and a sense of working toward a new, layered assemblage of casual dressing. Up to a point, anyway. For evening, Theyskens was fully back within his familiar zone of strapless ball-gown romance. The paper-thin silver fan-pleated taffeta, twisted metallic velvet, and diaphanous chiffon poufed in back with a demi-crinoline were beautiful, if a tad familiar—but in terms of interest, what he's doing for day is the thing to watch.