English meets Italian, Alessandro Dell'Acqua said backstage today. The designer has built his No. 21 label on the mash-up, and as promised, his new collection mixed tweeds, plaids, and checks with plenty of embroidery. Call it grungy meets girly. The masculine/feminine thing is practically as old as time, but Dell'Acqua is connecting with fashion's young ones. Something about the offhand way he pairs a sequin-encrusted sweatshirt with a button-up and mannish cropped pants (Swarovski-studded socks peeking from beneath their hems) is jibing with them. Same goes for a pink lace pencil skirt over-embroidered with birds accompanied by a boxy space-dye knit sweater.

It's a bit of a trickle-up phenomenon, really. Eclectic outfits like these are already being put together on the streets. Dell'Acqua wouldn't be the first designer to find inspiration in Tommy Ton, et al., but after multiple trips down memory lane on the first day of Milan's Fall shows, it was refreshing to watch a designer lift ideas from the here and now. At the least, it's smart business, which counts for something now that Dell'Acqua can make a serious go of No. 21 thanks to a licensing agreement with Gilmar.

Not all of Dell'Acqua's propositions will have legs: The printed gazars with the wide black silicone bands across the midriff or the hips seemed contrived. Still, they didn't stop a couple of key market editors, who happen to be dyed-in-the-wool shoppers, from raving on their way out. Safe to say we'll be seeing some of Dell'Acqua's own ideas—mohair knits tied around the waist, those crystal-covered socks—on the street-style blogs later this month.