"Monastic couture" was Rick Owens' own label for his new collection, and the monochrome severity of the show was a step away from the romance of Fall. Or maybe it was a different kind of romance: The designer was so enthralled by his fabrics for Spring that he felt like stripping everything away and letting the cloth speak for itself. Long coats with a single button were lapel-less (though he also showed them with a small lapel and short sleeves); tops streamed away to an asymmetrical point, emphasizing their aerodynamic quality.

But the clothes scarcely had spring in their step. It was a coat-heavy show, a point reinforced by staging that suggested a wintry storm, with clouds swirling across the catwalk and wind machines blasting the front row. And while his leather pieces are usually washed and softened to limpness, Owens this time opted for skins with what he called "architectural weight," patching them into jackets that looked as solid as breastplates.

A group of white cotton coats worn with white wimples evoked penitents, or perhaps Joan of Arc, pure of heart and on her way to the stake. "I like that idealism," Owens mused. "There's something poignant about people who devote themselves to a cause. I'm not there yet." Ah, but y'are, Rick, y'are.