Now, here's a conundrum. You are a designer who has created a highly successful signature that's marked by a way of dressing that's slick and sexy. But fashion is shifting away from that toward more romantic, dreamy, eclectic territory. What do you do? If you are Costume National's Ennio Capasa, you attempt to move to pastures (somewhat) new, by softening up and adding a richer sense of detail and decoration. Capasa's change in direction is also driven by the launch of the label's diffusion line, C'N'C. "With C'N'C being so casual," Capasa said, "it was really time to make the main collection that much more luxurious and couture-inspired."

Did it work? Somewhat. Capasa kept his silhouette close to the body as usual but broke up his usual ultra-minimal look with intricately seamed and paneled chiffon dresses, tight-fit flight jackets with billowing bell sleeves, and fur-collared zippered satin trenchcoats. And he introduced rich jewel tones—ruby, emerald, sapphire—mixing them with the omnipresent black. But mixing brights with black is tricky: Neither ever really comes off looking as good as it could. One longed for Capasa to nix the noir all together and to focus on working his Asian-meets-psychedelic-inspired palette throughout the collection. Sometimes moving on means you really do have to take a leap of faith and break with the past.