You know the clothes are impressive when they outshine an excruciating presentation. Haider Ackermann’s models zombie strolled across the floor, first to apocalyptic rumblings on the soundtrack, then to the forlorn breathiness of model-turned-musician Alvin Scott Barnhill emoting his spoken rendition of an old classic: “Some day he’ll come along, the man I love. And he’ll be big and strong, the man I love.” In your dreams and mine, pal. Cheer up and enjoy the clothes.

Downersville was not Ackermann’s stated intention. “I just didn’t want this violence of brights or this orgy of colors,” he said. “I just wanted to be very calm. It was serene.” It was indeed, and beautifully so. This designer is not a man of quantum seasonal leaps, so the lack of color was a major message as he kept to combinations of black, gray, brown and white, with a trio of vibrant all-white looks injected near the end.

Color or not, Saint Laurent (he’s everywhere this season) remained an influence. So, too, were traditional Japanese dressing and origami art. Ackermann played with two primary ideas: ultrasleek tailoring and intriguing layering, its overt sensuality tinged ever so slightly with intellectual distance. The former featured lean, small-shouldered jackets over skinny pants in mannish (and fallish) tweeds, often cinched with wide leather belts. The latter incorporated elements of that tailoring, most often the pants, into alluring compositions. A key element: exquisite whisper-thin slipdresses, some with thick bands of woven leather across the bodice. These were cut and detailed to a fare-thee-well, one or two suspended masterfully from what looked like mere threads for straps. The looks started with relative simplicity, as in a large-dotted chiffon dress with floating train over small-dot pants. There were also pilings of robes, jackets, blouses and pants, their multiple patterns and flying appendages seeming to meld one into the other. Though at times complicated (some of Ackermann’s clothes could come with a how-to manual), those complications only enhanced the air of distinctive chic.

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