One of the hallmarks of Gianfranco Ferré's work was the grand gesture. Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi started out with a novel one today: paper-thin python spliced into narrow strips and braided into a streamlined coat worn over a matching slim skirt by Karolina Kurkova. It was a modern, inventive way to treat a precious skin. The designers went on to use artisanal weaving and macramé techniques on a black leather skater dress and a camel-colored bandage dress, but those rather too forcefully brought Azzedine Alaïa to mind, rather than the founder of the house they inherited.

Backstage, the duo said a book in Ferré's library with a photo of Louis Armstrong's trumpet got them thinking about jazz, and that the "instinctual music" led them in a "hotter, more sensual" direction. A couple of well-cut, sexy suits, their jackets tailored with double lapels, made it to the runway, but Aquilano and Rimondi's focus was on dresses—short, for the most part, and body-baring. The crisscrossing back straps and cutouts on both the minis and the longer sun-ray plissé gowns recalled recent Versace collections. In fact, similar motifs turned up at Donatella's show a few hours later.

Amid the collection's predominantly black and white scheme, the color-blocked sequin and crystal numbers had a graphic punch. But in general, this collection didn't have the distinctive point of view you expect not only from these designers, but also from one of Milan's once major houses.