Duality, according to Silvia Fendi, is at the heart of her label's new men's collection, the first it has shown in presentation during the menswear week in two years. The shapes and barely varying colors said "restrained." The unbridled luxuriousness of the fabrications said "run riot."

The entire collection traveled a short spectrum from blue to gray, arrayed on a long line of mannequins. (Stillness in excelsis, surrounded by video footage of Milan by night—dualism again.) And the silhouettes were not of the path-breaking kind. But Fendi has been pushing the envelope with craft. An Italian television series has even been created to showcase its craftsmen and document their innovations. The company has been investing heavily in new technology, needle-punching fabrics together, like felted wool fused seamlessly to mink, and creating new ones entirely, like denim poplin whose blue is actually fifteen different shades of blue thread.

"It's really a moment where we have contrasting forces," Sylvia explained, "a moment of big changes. I think all of us feel this dualism of past and future, about a way of life that probably will change in the future." There were gorgeous pieces that glanced at tradition, like a Selleria leather jacket whose pick-stitching echoed that of Fendi's iconic handbags. You didn't see a jacket and shirt without a tie. "The tie ties you to the past," Fendi reasoned.

Still, if the future looks chic, it also looks dark. Fendi said she disliked historical references but admitted she'd been watching Woody Allen's thriller Match Point with its seductive antihero: "very controlled, but then he's a serial killer." Surely she didn't mean the reference literally? "When I look at him," she said of the Fendi man, "he's very controlled, but he's fighting a little bit." Dualism incarnate.