It's not easy to take those current buzzwords—"restraint," "sobriety," and "volume"—and interpret them in an understandable, attractive way. At Marni, however, Consuelo Castiglioni had it all worked out. From her first outfit—a straight-from-the-shoulder tunic over a narrow skirt sharpened with white gauntlets—she presented a collection that took on plainness and ease in a way that was positively chic.

The success of Marni's new minimalism came from the clever way Castiglioni treated offbeat combinations of fabric, texture, and color. She did slouchy, low-crotch menswear pants, and brought lightness and movement to a structured gray double-knit jersey top by patchworking it to chiffon in the back. She also made sense of graphic cap-sleeve dresses, balloon sleeves, and her signature edge-to-edge over-belted coats by showing them with gray ribbed tights and great three-quarter-length quirky boots, which came with a tiny slice taken out of the toe.

The collection made potentially somber tones of gray vibrate beautifully together, offset against navy, burgundy, and pale, plastery shades of pink and ecru. Marni's gentle rigor carried through to long, slim jersey evening dresses, high-belted in contrasting slivers of patent. These marked a bold step away from the loosely assembled, flower-print, hippie-dippy beginnings of the label, but the measure of its success lies in the fact that Castiglioni has moved forward in a way that seems less like a big departure than a natural progression along her own arty road.