"We have a niche in evening and cocktail," Juan Carlos Obando said backstage before his show. "But I wanted to make evening relevant to my age. How do you look all decked out but still be 33 years old?" Well… neoprene armbands and shredded cutouts, apparently. "I like sex," Obando said with a boyish grin.

Sex wasn't the only thing on his mind, though. Steeped in documentaries about deep space, Obando riffed on the intergalactic, working with a dreamy Milky Way palette of mottled violet, turquoise, silver, and black. Universally sexy bell-bottom pants—tight, tight, tight through the thighs—were topped with fitted peplum jackets and roughened up with exposed zippers and raw-edged cutouts. The cutouts made a big impression on dresses, too: They looked like the wearer had flown too close to the sun. More than 140 varieties of jet black crystal were splashed here and there (and a smattering of hardware, too, including washers picked up at Home Depot); while these were applied by hand, the finished effect was more high-tech than handicraft. Shoes and jewelry by fellow Angelenos George Esquivel and Alexandra Cassaniti, respectively, echoed the beautiful toughness at play.