Last season Rick Owens called his collection "Mountain," heights to scale in search of self. This season it was "Island," but, contrary to the old existential formula, Owens was insisting that every man is an island, with his own rules and morality. That sounded like a formula for anarchy, an idea the old Rick might have relished. Instead, today's collection—younger, fresher, upbeat—underlined the fact that the new Rick crossed into the light some time ago. The air was clearly invigorating on that mountaintop.

Owens' distinct, outsider vocabulary is now a fashion lingua franca. That much was clear from the variants on black— skirt, skort, suit, whatever—with which he opened the show. But when he went white, with sheer jackets in nylon or what looked like handkerchief linen, he proved how much more there is to say. That lightness was the dominant mood of the show, even on the shimmering robes, the hieratic look that remains the designer's most challenging proposition. And with the lightness, there was a new trimness, in the blousons and in the linear style of leather-patched sleeveless tops.

When Owens talked about the linear, rectangular pattern on a parka (it looked a little like the reflective tape on a fireman's coat), he compared it to a tuning fork, something simultaneously practical and magical. But he also acknowledged that his fascination with lines reflected a certain rigidity in himself that his wife, Michelle, saved him from. "She's lyrical chaos," Owens waxed. "Without her, I'd be so rigid, I'd be a stick." In tribute, he borrowed her jangling bracelets and clippety-clop clogs to accessorize his models. And he may have launched her on a career in cabaret. That was Michelle's voice on the soundtrack, intoning, à la Dietrich, a poem by her favorite Langston Hughes over Matthew Stone's pulsing electronic sound storm. So here's a surprising new angle on the career of fashion's rebel angel: All along, it's been a love story.