After the huge, hell-red backdrop had been slowly sliced open from behind, a man and a woman emerged through the slit and proceeded to dance an impassioned tango. So far, so Kean Etro. You can generally rely on his shows to fire up a crowd. So why, after that spectacular introduction, did this latest presentation feel a little flat? Could it be that the Duke of Windsor, the man the designer claimed as inspiration for the collection (and whose spirit hovered over a number of catwalks this week), simply wasn't a big enough character to hang a whole show on?

Kean gave it his best shot, sending out dozens of variations of the Prince of Wales check (he called it "the most classic leitmotif in menswear fabric"). The overriding impression, however, was that the catwalk was awash with gray, and no one has ever been able to say that about an Etro show before. There were shots of color, like a hot-pink corduroy jacket or a sky-blue cotton coat, and the Etro paisley was highlighted in everything from silky robes (worn as overcoats) to a suit (finished off with a cardigan in lilac). But from the very first outfit—a double-breasted topcoat over a suit—there was an atypical, oh-so-serious, all-grown-up air to the proceedings.

Still, there's no denying the Duke was a snappy dresser, and Kean did him justice in some superbly shaped jackets. And the patterned knit cardigan coats thrown over pinstripes were, if not strictly Windsor style, at least novel enough to pass for class.