Today Chris Gelinas showed his Fall offering in front of a massive, sepia-toned U.S. flag. The Canadian-born designer had been thinking about the American Dream, and about the many forms workwear can take, from the pragmatic to the aspirational. A beautifully weird, moody runway show underscored the more melancholy aspects of striving in America.

Gelinas’ first four looks came in a tonal gray checked wool, starting with an A-line layered “apron skirt,” which he teamed with a powder-pink silk georgette top. There was a lot of wit to the supersize French cuffs seen on boxy, utilitarian-looking shirtdresses, and to the oversize men’s tie motif at the neck of blouses and belted frocks.

These clothes, stripped as they were of any flou (the designer’s greatest extravagance was a pair of foulard prints), allowed Gelinas’ technical precision and his interest in the transformative qualities of clothing to take center stage. Some of his strongest ideas here were the ones that pitted labor against luxury. Gelinas gave flounced cotton jersey skirts form by topstitching them densely all over to the point of stiffness, and he turned out an uncanny, chain-mail-esque gray cotton lace.

If there was a certain austerity to these pieces, it was the product of savvy exploration, which translated into a tightly edited collection worthy of praise in the midst of more indulgent shows. Gelinas’ vision and craftsmanship have led to his Spring collection being carried by retailers like Shop Bop, and continue to set him apart from the pack as one of the New York shows’ more promising young tickets.

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