How could Mary Katrantzou possibly sustain the mind-blowing fusion of style and substance that made her first collections so intoxicating? The boldness is still there—she built her latest collection around the biggest issue of our age: man vs. nature—but today she soft-pedaled the jaw-droppingly detailed artifice of her earlier shows in favor of broader, more abstract strokes. Still, there's no denying the results were more accessible. Instead of rigid, formal architecture, there were sensuous human forms sheathed in knit or trailing diaphanous chiffon.

The all-important prints hinted at nature exploded—scales, feathers, flowers blown up to an unrecognizable degree—and the manmade imploded. Katrantzou had been looking at the crushed-car sculptures of John Chamberlain, so there was a metallic sheen to the collection, achieved in part by making some pieces out of tulle bonded to Mylar, but also with prints made up of metal objects like cans and car parts. Katrantzou extended the conceit into actual 3-D metal, with little paint cans blackened, crystallized, and crusted onto a dress like an alien appliqué swirled diagonally with bands of colored metal flowers. "A whirlwind of metal," she called it.

Katrantzou's work is chockablock with ideas. Here, for instance, she drew parallels between the serial repetition you find in nature—in the serried order of a flower field, for instance—and the industrial mass production of our society. It's a depth of thought you'd expect to find in art, but it's rare in fashion. And when the ideas and execution meld, Katrantzou has proved herself a remarkable new voice. Here, however, there was a slightly discombobulating distance between the two, almost as though the abstract was too abstract, the literal too literal. But Katrantzou's teasing trompe l'oeil—as in the elaborate metal obi that looked like Frank Gehry's Bilbao Guggenheim—is still one of fashion's marvels.