Veronica Etro described her collection as "a journey of light and color." That meant exploring a century of painterly treatments, from the exquisitely realistic nineteenth-century Greco-Roman fantasias of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema to the shimmering, abstract color blocks of Mark Rothko (prettily interpreted in skinny knits or hand-painted chiffon evening gowns).

Etro built up slowly to the highly colored, multiprint effects that have lately become a signature of the house once famed for its autumnal paisley designs. The show opened with a natural linen coat, its hem massed with impasto embroidery that evoked Matisse cutouts. This was typical of the collection's artisanal hand detailing, which included rococo volutes of silvery sequins on a wispy chiffon skirt and jet-embroidered whorls garlanding skirts or coats. Only the accessories were simple and relatively unembellished—high, strappy suede sandals, and bucket bags and briefcases in natural or earthy red linen bordered and bound in black leather.

Those signature paisleys were subtly revisited—barely perceptible this time—in soft shades of pale yellow for a sunray-pleated evening dress. Meanwhile, the Romany gypsy-scarf prints allowed Etro to run riot with audacious color mixes such as purple, aqua, and cocoa, while a full-blown rose print on a thirties-inspired evening dress captured the season's passion for romantic florals.

Etro's eclectic vision also embraced the blues of the Mediterranean Sea, from soft aqua to ultramarine. And the sultry atmosphere that sea evokes was reinforced by evening gowns that suggested Alma-Tadema's ersatz Victorian take on the garb of ancient Greek and Roman lovelies.