"With everything that's going on, it had to be about what's essential," Kris Van Assche said backstage before his show (referring, of course, to the economy and its effects on fashion, in general, and on his own business, specifically). For the Belgian designer of Dior Homme, what's essential is the menswear element. For Spring, he decided to drape his suits and to approach dressmaking with a tailor's hand. The opening L.B.D., for example, came in a crisp cotton with short sleeves puffed stiff below pinched shoulders. A pair of suits, by contrast, were sashed at the waist with the tails of the shirts worn beneath. A soft, swagged feeling came across via jackets tucked into trousers and pants with smocked elastic sweat-suit waistbands.

As ideas go, it was a small one upon which to base a collection. And in just three shades—black, white, and gray—it didn't make for a sizzling runway show. But there may be customers out there for Van Assche's minimal approach, especially in a season when few others are focusing on tailoring.