In a season when no one can really be sure how she'll feel about spending money six months hence, it would make sense that a label with a tried-and-trusted signature like MaxMara would smell its advantage and turn out the most convincing argument on Earth for believable classics. Instead, what transpired on the runway only served to raise bewildering questions. Will real women want viscose overalls in silky fabrics next spring? Will they see themselves in shirtdress-cum-rompers? Does a go-to-work pantsuit benefit from the addition of souped-up carpenter trousers? And does any of that improve when you've seen it repeated in four different colorways and fabrics? Who, really, is going to go for dungarees in white sequins?

A tremendous amount of goodwill exists toward MaxMara, and that should never be dismissed. The problem here is the frustration of seeing a great company miss its opportunity. It would almost have been preferable had a whole series of commercial suits and coats been trotted out—presumably that's what the MaxMara customer will really be buying come spring. What seemed to be going on—and there was plenty of time to diagnose it as yet another repeat garment passed by—was a misreading of what might actually pique the interest of the press. Fancied-up sportswear in however many swatch options just didn't do it this time.