Rick Owens called the wall of light that framed his catwalk "a gateway to heaven." Typically provocative. When his models passed through that wall, it looked like they'd just encountered the world's biggest bug zapper. "Electrocuted martyrs," Owens dubbed them.

The first models in their virginal smocks might indeed have been sacrifices to some divine eminence, though the religious subtext is something the indubitably carnal Owens would probably dodge. Still, the elevated spiritual connotations are something that have been creeping into his work for a while now. They were obvious here in his take on the couture influence that has insinuated itself into ready-to-wear this season. Never mind everyone else's mid-century; Owens pond-skipped back to mid-millennium, the Renaissance moment when popes were presented like big game, their heads mounted on a neutral, big-shouldered backdrop, chastely closed to the throat. As a statement about individuality, it was hard to challenge, even if Owens' models were too callow to convey the depth of his conviction. It would be amazing to see this idea carried through on multifaceted humanity.

That's the best thing about Owens. You can totally go there with him on Big Ideas. He's more than an aesthetic; he's an ethos. Which is why he has so many acolytes in fashion. Here, for instance, he was challenging the notion of what he called "horny dressing." Miniskirts? Owens hates them. He insisted he was offering the opposite of sex—"stately elegance," he called it. In this collection, it was manifest in a fishtail gown with one single seam running down its front; in slender columns ("pillar skirts" in Owens-speak) topped by pure-couture sack-backed smocks; in metallic Art Deco patchwork of the finale. And then there was the way the fabric of a dress was quietly gathered at the breastbone. Guess what? That's kind of hot.