Fifty Shades of BCBG. On first look, it was hard to see past all the harnesses. "We have day harnesses, we have night harnesses," Lubov Azria said backstage. Leather ones overlaid most of the crepe dresses and gowns she and her husband sent out in their new collection, which traded the pop colors of last season for a more muted palette of talc, coral, black, white, and cream. They claimed Helmut Newton as an inspiration, which may help to explain the sex-forward theme. Backstage, Joanna Coles, the newly named editrix of sex bible Cosmopolitan, declared it "very Cosmo."

And it was—though, Mrs. Azria said, "I don't think you need to show a lot of skin to be sexy." She didn't. Lengths were relatively long, even where they were sliced into high slits; the interplay of sheers and embroidery let snips of bare flesh show through. The dresses themselves, fluttering and ethereal, some sporting cape backs and leather details, should be recognizable to BCBG's cadre of fans. The workwear element introduced by chambray blouses and oversize jackets in silk cotton canvas, less so, even if fashion watchers may sniff references to other collections. That's OK: Those ideas belong to the ether now. The Azrias' own contribution to this season were all those harnesses. "When you have something powerful, it needs to come out," Lubov opined, "but you need to keep it in." Unbuckle all those straps and the mood changes, of course. "The moment you take off the harness, it's a completely different collection," she said, and one more comfortably in the Azria wheelhouse. Ironically, there wasn't much gray.