Even before Alessandro Dell'Acqua's spring collection had begun, his audience was suffering from dampened spirits after being plunged, on a sunny morning, into a dark hall to view eveningwear. Since Dell'Acqua's signature is light, flighty dresses and tops, the vaguely twenties-through-sixties cornflower-blue and nude pieces with which he opened had a familiar charm. Fine—but after that, the pressure of expanding the show to fill a long runway led to a distinct lack of focus.

Like every Milanese designer this season, Dell'Acqua felt the pressure to show something Indian influenced. That resulted in a sort of eighteenth century raj theme: short paisley caftan dresses, palm tree- and animal-embroidered silk jackets and microshorts, and, in the pant department, the baleful influence of jodhpurs. It all got even more confusing when the designer sent out a couple of black lace items that nodded emphatically in the direction of Rochas.

No doubt the inherent prettiness of the clothes will be more evident in the surroundings of a boutique. But Dell'Acqua would do himself and his audience a favor if, next season, he edits more ruthlessly—and shows in a less deadly venue.