The latest English enfant terrible to take his show on the road, Gareth Pugh, promised that his Paris debut would mix showroom and showpieces. In other words, commerce and creativity uniting to broadcast Pugh's business savvy on a much wider platform than London had allowed him. But if that implies compromise, forget it. The sonorous horror horns that announced the presentation suggested something wicked this way comes, and sure enough, Pugh mined the curious mother lode—Joan Crawford meets Predator—that he's established as his design signature. The exaggerated shoulder; the nipped waist; the articulated limbs, elbows, and shoulders projected to sci-fi points: all present and correct.

Post-show, Pugh talked about the duality of outfits that were all white in front, all black in back. The notion of emerging from darkness was his contribution to the irrational optimism of the Spring season as it has unraveled in New York, London, Milan, and now Paris. But there was also an inescapable subtext of protection in outfits with breastplates that jutted up over the face. The historicism that distinguishes the work of Central Saint Martins' brightest stars was evident in pieces that suggested the armor of a medieval knight. Elizabeth I's concertina-ed ruff exploded round one model's neck, down another's dress. There was a Victorian starchiness in pleated underskirts. But Pugh shoved all this history into a futuristic fantasy zone with a wrapped coat that looked like pixels, or a dress composed of vinyl petals like reptilian scales.

In the light of such eldritch constructions, it was funny to hear the designer talk about slashing vents into the clothes "because this is a Spring collection." That's what constitutes a commercial consideration in his extraordinary, hermetic world.