Coincidence is a fine, flummoxing thing. Patti Smith loves Hermann Hesse, and on a pilgrimage to the Swiss museum that celebrates his life and art, she saw his carefully preserved clothes. Meanwhile, Ann Demeulemeester, the designer for whom Smith has been a longtime inspiratrice, was thinking about Hesse's The Glass Bead Game as she sat down to design her new collection. Patti happens to be in Paris, shows up to take pictures in Ann's front row with her vintage Polaroid Land Camera, only to learn the show's all about Hermann. Phew!

Demeulemeester's Spring show was set in the garden of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie. It's surrounded by hydrangeas, the flowers that contributed to last season's floral splendors, but this time, Demeulemeester seemed to have retreated to the dark, defrocked-preacher vibe of earlier offerings. There's always gorgeousness in her proposals—here, a doubled jacket, black over white, and a splodge pattern that was her version of an animal print—but one initially hoped for more light in the darkness. Then it arrived in the form of ten elderly men, dressed in shades of ivory and white that contrasted with the funereal tones worn by the young models who had previously trolled the catwalk. The message seemed obvious: The older you are, the closer to the angels you get. After the Etro and Yohji shows, with their jaunty senior citizens, we may be looking at a new fashion trend. (And the third time's the charm.)