Antonio Marras is one of fashion's congenital romantics, given to grand gestures that stir the emotions. The backdrop for his latest collection for Kenzo was a huge golden disc—the sun hanging heavy over the Sahara. At the finale, it literally exploded in a shower of gold filaments that rained down on the catwalk while models walked in juicily shaded chiffons—aqua, peach, hot pink—with heads wrapped like nomad princesses. It was a spectacular conclusion to a show that took as its starting point the Middle Eastern excursions of the early twentieth-century English adventuress Freya Stark, then stirred in a little of Bertolucci's film The Sheltering Sky. So there was a Europe-meets-ethnic vibe to the clothes, which was so perfectly in tune with the ethos of the house that it underlined how appropriate a choice Marras was for this job. You could pair the striped drop-crotch pants with the madras trench and you'd have a consummate update of the Kenzo code.

The designer's own inclinations toward a darkish glamour were evident in the floral print he matched with a man-tailored jacket in black lamé, or a draped dress trailing threads of old gold Lurex. His theme of the desert explorer also inspired much easier pieces: big shirts cinched with wide belts, army shorts belted with rope, a natural linen shirtdress. The sheer shift with a sequined camo pattern might be a stretch for the Sahara, but it artfully elevated this season's military mood.