It was a bit of a bumpy trip down the rabbit hole for Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi tonight. Alice in Wonderland was their starting point for Fall, but even leavened with some menswear tweeds, all those Queen of Hearts jacquards landed with a bit of a thud. There's little quibbling with their technique. The skirts on a pair of sheaths were constructed in such a way that the pocket flaps created a heart shape—impressive stuff. Aquilano and Rimondi hold the mid-century glory days of Italy's alta moda in the highest regard. The issue is that reverence can sometimes blind them to what's modern. This collection, like many in Milan this week, had a strong connection to the 1940s: hourglass shapes, accentuated shoulders, men's oversize jackets belted on top of pencil skirts. Rendered in rich, couture fabrics, the results could turn stuffy.

The designers have it in them to think along lighter lines—click through their Spring 2012 show if you need proof—but for the most part that wasn't in the cards here. Among the exceptions were a belted coat that, while elaborately embroidered in a grid of studs and squares of sequins, didn't feel heavy, and simpler outerwear like a navy blue officer's coat with bordeaux velvet trim or an egg-shape jacket with bands of chinchilla down both arms.