There has been a big, bad masculine thread running through womenswear this season, and Giambattista Valli has had enough of it. "I wanted to design for a woman who was confident to dress in women's clothes," he said after his show today. For the designer, that meant short skirts, exaggerated florals, and extended sleeves. "Like the hug of a man around her," he explained. Valli was feeling a moment of introspection, a tender moment, in fact, conveyed by jacquards and wools brushed into a soft pile. Fabrics you wanted to touch, in other words, in a palette of gentle pinks and reds.

Valli made his point by limiting his options—either a fitted top, neat little waist, and flaring skirt, or a pannier silhouette for extra volume. Both emphasized the leg, emphatically bare because, as Valli astutely noted, the sun is always shining somewhere. But even as he defined his collection as an antidote to the ambiguity of others that draw on menswear, he still incorporated an impression of duality in dresses that featured, for instance, tufty in front versus flat in back, or wool in front and fur in back. In this, at least, he acknowledged that however confident his clients may be in their womanliness, they don't want to come across as an instantly readable open book.