Emilio de la Morena is not afraid of incorporating weighty ideas into his collections. For the past several seasons, the Spanish Central Saint Martins graduate has tussled with the work of artists, such as Eduardo Chillida and Annette Messager, and brought his own art background to bear in painterly prints and sculptural construction. What makes de la Morena a talent to watch, however, is his light touch. He makes clothes girls want to wear—sexy, polished, yet unfussy, and just awry enough to be unexpected. He's not weighed down by his references.

This season—his fourth on the official London fashion week schedule—de la Morena's key reference was the painter Lucio Fontana, a sixties star known for his slashed canvases. Fontana's work was sexually fraught; de la Morena, meanwhile, gave the artist's ideas a cooler atmosphere, focusing on the graphic potential in punctures, slits, and strobes of bright color. This outing felt harder than previous ones, which have seen the designer exploring organic shapes and gossamer textures. Here, he emphasized angularity, draping squares of fabric off skirts (or creating the same effect with blocked prints) and playing geometric games with leather. A primary motif was leather hand-stamped in dot and square patterns, and then set against satin organza, some of it laser cut or hand-embroidered with a similar pattern. A related motif was slashed leather, revealing brightly colored organza underneath.

The designer said after his show that he wanted a cleaner look this season, and that he started development of his collection with the leather. At a certain point, he explained, he realized that he needed to bring in the satin organza and, generally, to soften the clothes. "It's important to be new, but it's also important to be me," he noted. That's good discipline from an emerging designer, and it was a smart call, because without the cloudy skirting and milky sheers de la Morena integrated with the leathers, the collection would have been awfully astringent. More problematically, it would have been a little out of step at a time when most designers are pursuing softer silhouettes and longer hemlines. De la Morena's candied palette was in conversation with the colors seen around London this week, but in pretty much every other way, he was doing his own thing.