Roland Mouret found a few key ways of moving on this season. His antennae picked up the need to add something looser and more naturalistic to his line, and as a Frenchman, that oriented him toward a North African vibe. His father served in the French army in Africa, and brought home souvenirs that were part of the household when the young Roland was growing up, and thoughts of djellabas and Zouaves and jewelry from the souk occurred to him for Spring. It's a fashion theme that has a strong Parisian history, from Saint Laurent to Azzedine Alaïa through to Riccardo Tisci's Givenchy.

The addition to Mouret's canon of Berber stripes, hoods, tarnished gold-bead jewelry, and strawlike fringing (actually a viscose fiber, soft to the touch) was a timely move. Still, it was carried through in a way calculated not to scare off the body-conscious city-dwelling audience whose mentality and lifestyle he understands so well. In a season of nude illusion and lingerie effects, Mouret also came up with a practical device smartly developed from the "built" underpinning that was the secret ingredient in his famous hourglass Galaxy dress. Now he's selling the underlying power-mesh base as a body-control device in its own right: a skin-toned slip with a zipper in the side. "I think Spanx are great," he said, "until a woman gets home after the party. This gives a guy something to play with."

Mouret's focus on the utility aspects of modern dressing also led him to work out a design for a top—a square of fabric suspended on tapes that can double up as a skirt. That might prove a trickier sell, like some of the draped and folded pannier-shaped ideas he worked into the show. Yet Mouret's general direction—the broadening of his palette to include teal, mustard, and black-and-white jersey stripes, and the new sense of texture and richness in this collection—looked appealing.