c.2014 New York Times News Service

c.2014 New York Times News Service

Not long ago, Zaha Hadid took to her drafting table to create a pair of shoes. Chrome and rubber platforms that were conceived with her fellow starchitect Rem Koolhaas, they looked like nothing so much as a Slinky, its serpentine coils neatly fused.

On the evidence of the fall collections that wrapped last week, you might suppose that fashion had decided to return the favor, offering a wealth of highly structured, oddly futuristic looks that seemed to double as body shelter.

Architecture, soft or rigid, was an overarching theme for fall, as an influential handful of designers experimented with lines and volumes that might have been executed on an AutoCAD program. The will to impose shape and structure on the wayward human form drove designers as disparate as the commercially savvy Alexander Wang in New York, the weirdly cerebral Gareth Pugh in London and the devoutly austere Raf Simons of Dior to craft clothes that as often as not seemed to have been built on the body, the models’ minimal curves serving as little more than scaffolding.

Then, too, arced shoulders, cocoons and elliptical shapes: All that rigor on the catwalks was countered by a more whimsical, fantasy-driven direction. Romantic, surreally sylvan themes emerged persuasively in Milan, that most commerce-minded of Italian cities, spawning, of all things, a profusion of fairy-tale fashion.

Owls, swans, squirrels and little foxes clambered all over tunics and jackets at Dolce & Gabbana, and a crimson fur coat brought Red Riding Hood to mind. Alberta Ferretti cited the forest outside her bedroom window as the inspiration for an effusively romantic collection garnished with feathers, ribbons and jewels. That otherworldly strain was echoed in London and Paris, with designers like Mary Katrantzou and Jun Takahashi of Undercover exploring heraldic and regal motifs worthy of Vikings, “Game of Thrones” or a historical fantasy video game.

A little fairy dust settled at Valentino, too — fittingly since the magical feeling so pervasive on some runways may well have originated with the operatically themed collections that Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative directors of Valentino, showed a couple of seasons ago. High-waist floor-sweeping gowns and dresses embellished with butterflies carried the ethereal mood forward.

It was a season of fevered extremes, but at some houses cooler heads prevailed. Michael Kors showed a genteelly tailored camel coat over a silvery charmeuse dress; Maria Cornejo championed fleecy ponchos and track pants; and Christophe Lemaire offered cocooning twin sets and trousers. Others like Yang Li, Chloé and Giorgio Armani similarly bypassed fantasy and experiments in geometry in favor of deftly cut and sumptuous wardrobe builders that clever women can count on.