The season may be Spring 2009, but 2008 is an Olympic year, and this time around Italo Zucchelli offered his most comprehensive analysis yet of American sportswear. The Stars and Stripes even made an appearance, subtly embossed on tops. The sporting element was literalized in echoes of baseball and fencing (padded blousons and britches) and the use of athletic fabrics: gray jersey, cotton perforated like Airtex, a high-performance bonded paper. Paper? Yep, Zucchelli's fabric experimentation came up with something that looked like leather but was actually superstrong paper. Turn it into a tee, pair it with chambray jeans, and you had the Zucchelli pitch in a nutshell: emblematic sportswear items transmuted for the future.

Same with the tailoring he has focused so tightly on since he came to Klein. Suits had a slightly boxier—or more generous—feel, but he whacked them with a hit of fluoro color so intense the audience actually gasped. It was an early sixties vision of the future—Mad Men Go to Mars—an impression that was helped along by Chet Baker on the soundtrack. As a European, Zucchelli's perspective on emblems of Americana is inevitably slightly distanced, ironic even. Hence the models' styling: silvery, swept-back hair, glassy blue eyes. In them, Zucchelli saw otherworldly athletic perfection.