Who Is on Next? is the debut project of Italian Vogue and its editor in chief, Franca Sozzani, working together with Rome's haute couture federation, Milan's fashion council, and Italy's central buying body to discover and nurture fledgling talent in their industry—paralleling New York's Fashion Fund and London's Fashion Fringe initiatives. From 300 original applicants, the international judging committee selected three winners—two fashion houses and one footwear label—who were able to showcase their work before an impressive roster of press and buyers.

Albino D'Amato, who studied at Paris' Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture and went on to work as an assistant at houses in Paris and Milan, brought his sophisticated background to a collection that focused on experiments with volume and proportion. Citing Romy Schneider's romantic fifties and sixties movies, and Viennese and Bauhaus art movements, D'Amato caught a number of current runway trends, among them drop-waist twenties gymslip dresses, sunray pleats (here in black tulle shadowing navy chiffon), and the deconstructed trench. He added his signature in details including jewel-like miniature gold roses scattered as embroidery trim.

A runway presentation may not have been the ideal showcase for Carlo Alberto Pregnolato's understatedly elegant shoes—even if they were shown here with the pretty, fragile goddess dresses of New York-based Jean Yu. Pregnolato's subtle high-heel sandals came in mouthwatering combinations of colors (including Yves Klein blue, hibiscus pink, and Parma violet) and materials (matte suede with shining reptile, textiles designed by Falconetto or Gio Ponti). And if they trod ground that's been well worn by Manolo Blahnik, perhaps that's down to DNA; Pregnolato's aunt worked with the celebrated Vigevano-based maker that produces the grand old master's footwear, too.

Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi have been designing anonymously for a big-name Italian manufacturing house for long enough to know exactly how beautiful clothes are put together. And now, with their label, cryptically called 6267 (it's Rimondi's clothing ID number from his childhood summer camp), launched in 2004, they have been able to wed their technical skills with design innovation. With this sophisticated collection, the design duo combined detail from Spanish matador costumes with a sleek, narrow-skirted line that evoked the midcentury couture exaggerations of designers like Jacques Fath and Christian Dior—all executed with a refreshingly twenty-first-century lightness of touch. Some of their silhouettes and deft draperies owe a debt to Roland Mouret. But the meticulous attention to detail (the elaborate frogging of a bullfighter's suit of lights simulated in ivory linen to match a jacket, for instance), couture fabrications, and seductive palette (cocoa, lilac, old rose, copper, ink) set them apart as exemplars of accomplished modern elegance.