Damir Doma has been typecast as a worshipper of the dark. But times are changing. The designer showed his new women's collection as the invited guest of Pitti Immagine in Florence tonight, and as the sun set over the outdoor gardens of the Giardino Corsini, there emerged a collection that was light, sensual, and shot through with rich colors. Afterward, Doma was still marveling over the mise-en-scène of the thing. "You come to Pitti for this kind of experience," he said. He'd found out he'd been invited just after his last women's collection, one dedicated to office workers and their grayscale working wardrobes. "I saw fourteen places," he said, before picking this one. "The moment you know where you're going to show, you think about how it will look."

The slash of royal-purple jacquard that sliced through—maybe better to say spliced onto—the black-and-white printed dress was a clear sign that he'd leapt out of the shadows for what he called his most graphic collection ever. It had surprise on its side. "Sometimes it's one step back and two steps forward," Doma said.

There were backward glances here, and references to archival bits of the label's history: the live accompanist, plunking out snatches of show soundtracks past on a piano, and key items from seasons gone by, like the patch-pocketed skirts and side-tie jackets that reappeared tonight. But Doma is working hard and well to advance his own cause. There was more sexiness in this collection, with its cinched-in emphasis on the waist and cutout bustier tops, than there has been before. Sexy is what you think about in Italy, Doma shrugged shyly. But he would know. He's been spending more and more time here over the past few months, thanks to the recent signing of a new factory in Novara, one whose other clients are in the indisputable big leagues: Chanel, Burberry, Givenchy. "I've got a lot of new tools in my hands," he said. This collection left the lingering impression that he's still acclimating himself to the tools at his disposal and the world he has wrought. It's too soon to tell, but that might just be the wavering start of the next step forward.