Julien David returned to his home base of Tokyo last season a week after the tsunami, a sensitive moment to say the least. "The ground was shaking for a month and a half afterward," he explained backstage after his show. That cemented a collection concept that had been kicking around his head for a while—that of the big crunch. In short: It's the big bang in reverse, and yes, it means the end of the world.

But David's collection wasn't apocalyptic. In fact, it had a springy, street-bound life to it. (To wit: The Webster's Laure Heriard Dubreuil, who currently stocks the line, beamed afterward, "Lots of things for Miami!") A tweed jacket, worn with skinny jeans and suede Birkenstock-like sandals, got its hourglass waist from crunched-in gathers. David turned despair into the swirling teardrop-tattoo print on airy georgette blouses and knotted scarves. Ideas about displacement and tremors led to the shifted lapel (evidence of a clever and skilled tailor) on a sugary pink wallpaper-print blazer, and the random little patches of herringbone that interrupted the uniform pattern on a gingham shirt.

Though subtle, it's those details that make David, an utter fabric wonk, stand apart from any other Tom, Dick, or Henrik sewing up a billowy anorak. The best part of his show is heading backstage to study at close range the fabrics he spends two months each season developing exclusively for his label with a mill in Ichinomiya. This time it was a gorgeous, lightweight double-faced denim jacquard, cut into a little blazer and sleeveless trench with finished seams that you imagine will fly off Dubreuil's racks, and that blink-and-miss-it but very cool gingham. David is no copyist, but his thoughtful and highly original approach to street wear recalls Junya Watanabe. He might just be getting started, but you'd be smart to watch this space.