There were a couple of dresses toward the end of Alberta Ferretti's show that reminded us of the designer's usual stance: romantic, floaty, slightly vintage-y. They were a useful reference point in a collection that made an earnest effort to reposition Ferretti. "I'm projecting my woman into the future," she said. "The world is very hard at the moment, and a woman needs to be strong, because she has an important role to play in society."

That instinct translated into a collection built on dichotomy. It was most obvious in the way that a masculine exterior cocooned a feminine interior—or, to be a little less obtuse, the way a tailored pinstriped coat opened to reveal a delicately feathered skirt. The notion of a woman enveloped doesn't seem particularly empowering at first, but Ferretti felt there was strength in the sensual severity of her designs. To make her point clearer, she kept the palette monochromatic. She stripped away the print of her pre-fall, and even in her eveningwear there was a tension between strictness and flou, the structured bodice and the chiffon skirt. The detailed handwork that has distinguished Ferretti's last few collections was represented here by a skirt using an intrecciatolike braiding. It was paired with a sheer blouse wrapped in embroidery, like the wings of a bird of prey closing around the model's torso. The devil may be at the door, but he brought Ferretti a shot of creative revitalization as a hostess gift.