Roberto Capucci is one of haute couture's most underappreciated practitioners, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear the newly minted Italian stars Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi name-checking the designer and his achievements, along with those of other semi-obscure Italian couturiers like Pino Lancetti and Andrea Odicini. The designers turned out an unrepentantly joyful ode to the heyday of Roman couturiers in deluxe Italian fabrics, like jewel-tone brocade (used here for a slightly puffed-shouldered double-breasted coat-dress) and a lush rose and gold lamé (the basis for a strapless party frock with a voluptuous bow at the back of the waist). It got more ornate from there: The patchworked bottle green lamés of a long shirtdress and a pair of tiny miniskirts were inspired, we're told, by Monet and Gaudí. To appreciate those looks, they must be studied close-up; the runway just doesn't do them justice.
That was only part of the story, though. Aquilano and Rimondi also wove a legitimately sporty sensibility into the collection. Sharply tailored safari jackets, belted dresses, and vests mingled with the shiny cocktail-hour fare. Still, it was just about as far removed from Milan's drift toward rawness and transparency as you can get. Some of the looks would read as over-the-top in any season (a bustier minidress trailing a bow and topping a be-ruffled blouse, for instance), but in a Spring relatively short on full-on glamour, many of these clothes were standouts.