Sportmax was in the mood today for extravagance as an antidote to Italy's never-ending austerity binge. It was imaginative to opt for Jackson Pollock's extravagantly messy paintings as inspiration for the splatter jacquards that closed the show. The same spirit of densely colored abstraction found expression in a big, messily intarsia-ed sweater dress, and, to a more restrained degree, in big multicolored mohair coats. Except those pieces weren't really about restraint. They had all the energy of letting go. At the same time, they made for a diverting reevaluation of the label's workmanship, which is more often appreciated in smartly modern Italian tailoring.

There was certainly enough of the sober tone as well, although an infestation of vivid red mohair on a gray sweater dress was just one example of how the sober can be persuaded to show off. The subtly extravagant gesture was a winner.

Less so was the onslaught of animal and reptile that opened the show. Used as an accent—the python armlets on a gray flannel blazer, for instance—the philosophy of "less is more" is usually a safe bet, especially for a label that doesn't equate with decadence. Sportmax has achieved spectacular effects with the most deluxe materials in the past, but here the excess fostered a sense of heaviness and stiffness. And ironically, the luxury that these pieces endeavored to represent was probably one of the things that Pollock was railing against in his revolutionary work.