The three things that have earned Haider Ackermann his sudden fashion stardom are his gorgeous color sense; his lavish, layered silhouettes; and his evocative runway shows. The belted and peplumed layers returned again for Spring, and a spoken-word rendition of the Billie Holiday song "The Man I Love" (spoken by a man, by the way) played its pulse-quickening part to a T at this morning's défilé.

The colors, on the other hand, were nowhere to be seen—at least on the runway. (Tilda Swinton wore deep purple in the front row.) In the place of his usual rich hues, Ackermann employed graphic, geometric prints and a stricter palette—mostly black, white, and navy.

"I wanted to move on," the designer said backstage. The first surprise were the polka dots, which decorated a sheer, short-in-front, long-in-back slipdress that he paired with pants in a smaller dot pattern—a popular evening silhouette for Spring '13 that he put his stamp on several seasons ago. On another look, he combined a vertically striped fitted jacket with a draped blouse and full trousers in two different mosaic-tile motifs.

Collage has been a through-line this season, but where other designers patchworked individual pieces, Ackermann used whole outfits as his canvas. The effects were as reliably transporting as his famous color mixes. The models' stately pace threatened to put many in the crowd on edge, but it did have one advantage: There was plenty of time to pick favorites. Ours was a crisp white backless top tucked into high-waisted horizontally striped pants.