For any designer, pre-collections tend to tease at the season to come. But for Alessandro Dell'Acqua, who will make his debut as Rochas' creative director next month, you got the sense that today he was using his own line, No. 21, to test ideas that could easily transfer to his new gig. The recurrence of wide-sleeve neoprene tops and dressed-down sequined looks might lead to the conclusion that Dell'Acqua is already picking up the mantle left hanging so neatly by Marco Zanini. Yet this collection was neither Rochas-lite nor a hastily assembled afterthought. Plaid shirts ringed in feather bundles, sweaters with ornamented jet-bead elbow patches or pockets, and a sweatshirt dress fronted in copper-flecked brocade showed how Dell'Acqua excels at juxtaposition.

Yet he also seemed content to stay within a single register—modernizing a loden redingote by creating an inverted-pleat, single-vent combination back, or adding a horizontal placket and pockets to a black silk georgette maxi shirtdress. Outerwear paneled in plush rabbit fur and a gray sweatshirt with a raised No. 21 logo were at opposite ends of the luxe-accessible continuum; and yes, those platform sneaker booties confirm that Dell'Acqua is not above a cool crowd-pleaser. Add in the lace butterfly appliqués, floral-printed satin, and shaggy mohair coats and this was a collection in which the parts were stronger than the sum. But, given how strong the parts were, let's not dock points; let's instead hold out that Dell'Acqua is indulging all his creative impulses now in order to finesse and focus on what's to come. He's lucky to have this as his head start.