Dries, once and former king of menswear exoticism, is no longer inclined to such fancies. For his latest collection, he wanted "heritage menswear." Or, as he also put it, "dapper, not dandy." But he found that posed a challenge. The more restrained he went, the more complicated things got. So he ended up with a collection that looked like "nothing special, then you touch it" (remember, he has an incorrigible Belgian modesty). Like the last outfit, a nylon raincoat. It felt like no fabric you've felt before. Or the outfit before that—a white safari suit in languid viscose, more Dietrich than Hemingway. Dries was toying with the interplay of masculine and feminine. In fact, a hybrid air hovered over the whole collection. The shawl-collared, double-breasted jacket that cropped up a few times was new. (When it was side-tied, it could almost have been a karate jacket.) The matching-shirt-and-elasticized-waist-pant combination may well have been pajamalike in the season's current mode, but it was formal in its construction. Trousers cut from a tie print had the same relaxed-but-strict mood. "It's everything I like," said Dries afterward. "Subtle sartorial."

But he wasn't giving enough credit to the tongue he tucks firmly in his cheek. The show's set was a parking lot full of white cars. And the soundtrack was—what else?—Gary Numan, who gave Dries the original tracks for "Cars" so his DJ could mix them for the show. Now that's pull!