With the long winter and cold spring Europe has had this year, it was somehow fitting to learn that the Max Mara team had chosen Sergei Diaghilev's masterpiece The Rite of Spring as a starting point for its new collection. More of a surprise was how unlike Nicholas Roerich's original costumes these clothes were. With the ballet celebrating its centennial, the pieces have been much in the news; and yes, there were some tunics layered over cropped pants here, and drop-waist silhouettes as well, but whereas Roerich's designs were heavily embroidered, the Max Mara collection was virtually decoration-free.

The prevailing mood is a slouchy minimalism, not unlike at the label's Fall outing, but in a much brighter color palette. One of the most compelling combinations was an emerald-and-teal-blue pantsuit worn over a blush-pink blouse. Other looks paired coral with bubblegum pink, or pool blue with cerulean. Not designed for fading into the background, even though the overriding message of layered cashmere knits, as loose as pj's, and double-breasted blazers with built-in hoods was ease. As usual, there was a lot to like on the outerwear front: double-face cashmeres, of course, as well as sportier silk faille raincoats, the smartest in color-blocked icy gray and black.