Missoni laid on a quietly intimate welcome to the opening of a chilly Milan fashion week—a smaller, cozier venue, a glass of spumante, a bite to eat beforehand. That set a civilized tone that extended to the clothes, which struck a grown-up note in enveloping graphic outerwear, muted colors, double-faced cashmere, flannel, mink, and crocodile clutches.

It's certainly a refocusing of the brand's former something-for-everyone mélanges of items, and, reading between the inverted-trapeze ponchos and tweed-and-fur dresses, perhaps a deliberate effort to appeal to a luxury customer who won't be as affected by recession as an impulsive young dresser with a magpie eye for cute pieces. There were some beautiful things, notably a silk tulle mushroom-colored dress with a puffy collar that rose up around Lily Donaldson's face like a flower, and great metal wire and stone-studded belts and neckpieces. Still, the house expertise in knits was kept to a minimum in the flash of a raschel flame-knit coat lining and a matching dress, or a moss-stitch pullover paired with tailored pants. At a moment when the possibilities of knitwear are inspiring young designers, and sweater dressing is such a huge trend, the conservative-chic direction somehow submerged the sense that Missoni is a leading light in that field.