The Maison Martin Margiela team employs an up-cycling concept for its Artisanal collection, now in its second season on the Couture runway. If we're to believe the notes from tonight's show, the last three looks were made from thousands of metallic wrappers embroidered onto pongee silk. The candy "fur" took 70 hours to make. That's a far cry from the labors of a house like Valentino, say, whose own press materials announced that some pieces required upward of 500 hours of handwork, but it was beautiful in its own edgy way.

Would that the house would let someone behind the scenes do some talking (for now, the designers are officially anonymous), because the show was thought-provoking, too. There's the eco element, for starters. Particularly interesting, though, was the way the Maison repurposed beaded twenties evening dresses into something more like outerwear. The process involved restoring the beadwork, then bonding it to a trench, a "cigarette line" coat, or a K-Way windbreaker jacket—from the sublime to the sublime. For the minimalists in the house, there were sleeveless blazers worn as dresses with only some paint strokes for decoration.

The 19-piece collection's real stunner was a boat-necked long dress cobbled together from strips of Deco-era floral embroideries and bands of silk thread embroidery meant to look like brushstrokes. A pair of faded blue jeans (a Couture week first, by our reckoning) peeked from between the contrasting pieces of fabric.

Instead of BRIC billionaires, Raf Simons, Nicola Formichetti, and Kanye West, who reported he'd be buying the masks, were in the audience. As our seatmate said, Margiela put a candy wrap on Couture week. It was sweet.