When Alberta Ferretti looks out her bedroom window, she sees birds and trees and nature in all its glory. That's because she lives in her own small forest. She brought that to life on the catwalk today. And isn't that the first rule of inspiration? Use what's around you. "A metamorphosis of nature and woman," Ferretti called it.

She animated her twenty-first-century naiads and dryads with the height of Italian artisanship. One example: the mandalas of feathers that were made in Florence by the only craftsmen in Italy capable of such intricate work. Feathers were, in fact, a key component of the collection—as a print; as an illusory mélange of pleated ribbon; and as the real McCoy, in a darkly balletic dress that would have done Natalie Portman's Black Swan proud.

But the forest that Ferretti loves was also vital. Her palette contained the colors of fall, green on the point of turning to orange, or peculiar leaf-mold tones. The textures followed suit—fabric technology duplicated tree bark; a nubby autumnal tweed was shot through with gold. "Like sunlight through trees," said Ferretti. Dresses in felted alpaca ended in homespun fringes. There was sublimated glamour in the flash of sequins that illuminated the lapels of a loden coat, but ankle socks and suede sandals grounded the whole affair in earthiness.

Ferretti's woman is often cast adrift in an ethereal cloud, so this felt like something different for the designer. An acknowledgment of reality? Not likely with all that extravagant, expensive handwork. Nevertheless, the homeliness of the collection suggested a plush retreat.