What a difference a runway makes. The formality of a proper show after several seasons of presentations seems to have focused Shane Gabier and Chris Peters, the designers behind Creatures of the Wind. "Cleaned up" isn't the term for their Spring collection—their arty sensibility is too well developed for that—but there was something almost orderly about the eclecticism on display today. Credit their newfound twin fascinations with the sculptural yet crisp shapes of 1960s couture and traditional men's workwear for that. A green and blue brocade dress had a ballooning shape, and jackets, a highlight here, also came in boxy, away-from-the-body cuts.

Even as the duo's interest in silhouette becomes better defined, what makes their work compelling is their obsession with fabric. Their fearless way of mixing color, pattern, and texture situates them as eager apprentices in the same school as Marni's Consuelo Castiglioni or maybe Miuccia Prada. Take the first jacket, which authoritatively combined humble ecru canvas with silvery python-print lamé and lemon leather sleeve detailing, or consider the sweetly romantic evening separates like a tulle-covered hot pink jacquard bustier top with a double-skirted bottom in that same pink jacquard and a purple and yellow brocade. Many of the textiles demand up-close inspection: What looked like a red and blue tweed was made from micro-thin plastic, while brocades were woven with holographic stars that caught the runway lights.

Couture-quality fabrics like these will demand high prices. Still, for every shirtdress embellished with Swarovski crystals by their collaborator, the aptly named artist Kristina Sparks, there was something along the lines of a pair of hardworking wide-leg chambray trousers. Gabier and Peters have grasped that they can't graduate from upstart to arrived without the commerce part of the art and commerce equation. All in all, this was a significant step forward for the Chicago double act.