The theme from The Dark Knight cued a show for Lanvin that also had a heroic male as its theme. But he wore so many faces it was as though Alber Elbaz and Lucas Ossendrijver were conducting a demographic survey of the heroes of Lanvinland. What they had in common: a uniform of some kind. "The best way for men to dress," Elbaz declared. "A man in uniform is always a hero." First out was a persona the designers described as "security guard," which meant narrow, military-inflected layers scissored from bonded leather.

According to Ossendrijver, the collection that followed was intended as a steady loosening up of that initial pulled-together premise. That much wasn't immediately obvious—although boots first lost their laces and then turned into sandals. But it was clear that the essence of the collection was the all-important Option, from the uptightest skins to free-flowing layers, via some new twists on urban tailoring, where the jackets had dramatically dropped shoulders. The finale threw the spotlight on a look that mashed up vintage military tailoring with graphic techno-ethnic prints in long, floppy tees. "Is it hippie or is it happy?" Elbaz mused obliquely. Either way, it was something new for Lanvin.

What made it more interesting is that Elbaz was feeling that menswear has been rushing through the ambiguously gendered door that he and Ossendrijver opened five years ago. It was time, he decided, for Lanvin to man up. But let it be written that ambiguity is still one of Lanvin menswear's salient strengths.