Born in the U.K. to a Sicilian dad, Antonio Berardi currently lives in London and shows in Paris. Cosmopolitan as he is, it's his Roman Catholic upbringing that he frequently returns to—childhood memories are potent stuff. At the beginning of what was for him a well-balanced show, it seemed like the designer would be content to touch on trends such as transparency, neon colors, and a Stefano Pilati-ish silhouette, and only lightly tweak them with religious references. A hot pink dress, for example, fell like a priest's robes from the model's shoulders. A strapless number with a ruffle spanning the torso and descending to the hem came in cardinal red. And yet another dress, this one sleeveless and fitted, turned to reveal angel's wings along the shoulders.

Later, Berardi addressed the Catholic Madonna-whore complex full-on with looks in either Communion white or black. As innocent and untouchable as his downy dresses with their scroll-like embroideries were meant to be, they were cut in the same severe hourglass shape that Berardi used for a black openwork lace number that afforded a prime view of the briefs New York lingerie maker Jean Yu designed for the show. In other words, it was all sexy as hell—and yet it didn't feel like Berardi was straining for effect.