Antonio Marras should shelve this fashion malarkey and devote himself to moviemaking. Since John Galliano's retreat, there isn't another designer who paints cinematic pictures as vividly as he does. And that's Marras' challenge—costume is character, but is it fashion?

His latest inspiration was Milly, a singer who, throughout the middle decades of the twentieth century, was a living metaphor for Milan, like Piaf for Paris or Lotte Lenya for Berlin. She was an emotions-larger-than-life character, lover of, among others, the king of Italy, and a perfect candidate for Marras' signature collage technique. He imagined her clothes as souvenirs of everywhere she'd been, everyone she'd loved. A piece of tapestry, a fragment of a man's suit, a dissected fur coat, a swatch of red velvet theater curtain—these were the kinds of elements Marras stitched together for his collection. There were 45 unique bags, and shoes to match.

Milly's signature trenchcoat was reinvented with fur sleeves and tapestry inserts. Her equally signature blouse with the ruffled neckline was duplicated for evening. But, to return to Marras' challenge for a moment, none of this was mere fashion necrophilia or plain costume. He is too in love with his craft. So a funnel-neck jacket collaged from classic menswear fabrics, or a skirt with a red-lined obi fold at its waist, both stood out as ingenious fashion pieces. That said, Marras is really a connoisseur's proposition. True, this collection had the forties line—tailored jacket, severe pencil skirt—that has been seen elsewhere (and, it should be said, Marras' pencil skirts generate major heat), but his use of print and color had a melancholic romance that bordered on the theatrical. At show's end, dark roses flowered across the scrim while Milly's voice crackled down the decades. It was the sort of haunting chord that Marras can strike in his sleep. But sadly it ain't for everyone.