Backstage after her show, Consuelo Castiglioni seemed particularly happy with the collection she had just sent out. She felt she'd delivered the goods for the kind of self-possessed modern woman who would relish the Marni mandate: the polarizing print and color combinations, the surreal silhouettes, and everything else that made this outing a return to the willful, eccentric spirit of old after several seasons of relative serenity.

If the alchemy didn't always work (the asymmetrical ruffles in today's collection would infantilize any woman who wore them), Castiglioni found valuable structure in the athletic undertow that's being felt in Milan this season. The hair and makeup had a go-fast aerodynamic quality. The models wore leather helmets like bathing caps. And there was an element of scuba and cycling gear in the fitted tops and the shorts that underpinned a lot of the outfits. The perforated leather coats at the opening of the show were an abstract echo of the athletic mesh that later appeared as the detailing in side panels, shoulders, and backs. They also initiated a group of laser-cut leather pieces whose directness felt new for Marni.

But directness isn't really this label's MO. Instead, it was the randomness of a different outfit— a racing top with diagonal stripes over shorts with stripes going in the opposite direction, all of it wrapped in a honeycomb-printed asymmetric ruffled skirt—that spoke in Marni's tongue. Castiglioni found a bridge to conventional aesthetics when she covered that same top-and-shorts combination with a crocheted organza shift. Later, she added inserts of macro-paillettes to the organza. The unlikely resulting hybrid—athletics and luxury, in this case—was a finely honed expression of the Marni signature.