Casey Cadwallader isn’t one to stay still long. Having spent his first year at Mugler absorbing the brand ethos, he was ready to inject more of himself into his new lineup today. He said so backstage: “It’s different this season, and that was my goal. I’m doing the house justice with architectural tailoring, but I also dove into my passion for fabric development.” The timing is interesting. A Thierry Mugler retrospective, “Thierry Mugler: Couturissme,” is opening at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this week, and the much-photographed likes of Kim Kardashian West and Cardi B have developed fixations with the house founder’s elaborately constructed and cantilevered archival pieces. Cadwallader is pursuing a new path. There’s a body-consciousness to his work, but it’s an easier-to-wear body-consciousness. Women going about their days and nights who aren’t dressing solely for photo ops demand it in 2019.

Mugler gets its oomph this season from Cadwallader’s prints and jacquards. “They’re not quite animal, not quite mineral,” Cadwallader said. “We actually used the word herbal.” In fact, one was inspired by a photo of Murano glass, another by an Italian terrazzo floor—so, closer to mineral then, but still abstract. Cadwallader evoked Mugler’s signature hourglass shapes by combining flat panels with draped bits—structure and flou—in one piece. He did this on fitted long-sleeved sheaths, as well as on flouncy minidresses shown with boots that nearly grazed the dresses’ hems. Like the tailored jackets, the dresses are engineered to flatter and enhance curves; that Cadwallader manages this while maintaining the comfort quotient is a nice trick. Elsewhere, there was pattern play in a pair of looks patchworked together from leather scraps found in a storage closet at Mugler HQ. Cadwallader is resourceful, and he’s got the right design instincts. It’s a promising combination.