There's a puzzling disconnect between MaxMara's stores—brightly lit havens of well thought-out, sanely presented wardrobe options—and what transpires at its runway shows. The dark and cavernous exhibition hall where this Milan fashion powerhouse persists in putting up its presentations is a bit of a mood dampener, first of all. And the show itself, teasing out its design conceits in many passages, tends to make audience concentration wilt beneath the repetitions.

What MaxMara's design team decided on as seasonal innovations were big, striped sailor T-shirtdresses, a feeling for loose shapes, mannish styling, and a bit of eighties avant garde influence in the way of elasticized gatherings. What MaxMara does best for spring, though—that would be updates on burlap and linen safari-style pieces, camp shirts, summer trenches, and easy, wide pants with paper bag waists—was thankfully unchanged. Too bad, then, that those pieces had nothing to do with other distractions, like oversize jumpers styled like men's trousers, roomy playsuits, and primary-color silk hobble dresses. It's no slight to say that this highly regarded house could far better display its strengths in real, pragmatic dressing with a well-focused showroom presentation.