"I indulged myself so much in furry cavemen last season, I thought it'd be fun to go crisp," said Rick Owens backstage. Dropping Fall's much-praised shaggy shearlings and flowy skirts, he worked instead in sharp, clean skins—eel, snake, or ostrich—and sculptural gazar. Usually Owens likes to cocoon the body in trailing bits of jersey or washed leather, but here he focused on manipulating, almost distorting, the female silhouette—"the grand gesture," he called it.

Dresses came with high, funneling necks and bodies that twisted around the torso to create pouchlike pockets, a soft fold at the upper back revealing a flash of female skin. The best came in solid black or white; less successful were the ones in graphic stripes that zigzagged back and forth and around the dresses—there was nowhere for the eye to settle, and all those beautiful drapes went unappreciated. Geometric, almost kimono-esque jackets and podlike vests, worn over tunics and dhoti pants, looked easier to carry off, though it wouldn't have hurt to see a proper pair of trousers (i.e., ones that didn't droop southward toward the knees). This wasn't Owens' strongest effort—it was more of a lark, if we read him right backstage—but then again, no one should begrudge him the right to go out on a limb.