Veronica Etro seems so happy, so full of life and optimism, that the collection she presented today was a bit of a head-scratcher. The impressive kaleidoscopic backdrop might have offered a clue: Reality is mutable, darkness inevitably follows light. And it was a dark, hard-edged collection that Veronica showed, right down to the heels that zipped up the back. But those hard edges didn't have the usual sexual connotations. Instead, she insisted she was thinking about defense and protection.

The Etro children were raised by their father, Gimmo, in an enviably aesthetic environment. Just look at Veronica's stated influences for her collection: cathedral vaults and Renaissance ceilings, nineteenth-century ethnic textiles, Russian ceramics. That kind of scholarship is under threat in a world that digests "culture" in Kardashian-size bites. Small wonder the designer chose to couch her influences in such an aggressive way. Intricate prints were overlaid with black geometric intrusions. Going on the offensive, Veronica layered a biker over a mohair sweater (as punk as an Etro will ever get) or weaponized glamour with an armoring crust of micro-beading. If she herself wouldn't acknowledge anything punk (it's what the world is looking for right now, after all), the zipped, flappy kilts did the talking for her. But what they were saying didn't make a whole lot of sense in the context of this label. Finding the sense is Veronica's ongoing challenge.