Pitti Uomo, Florence's menswear trade fair, is an odd venue for Alexis Mabille, Paris' leading proponent of cuter-is-better. The usual Pitti attendees are men for whom 100-degree temperatures are no excuse for removing their studiously knotted neckties. What they made of Mabille's Spring '13 collection, which was shown, runway-style, descending a flight of exterior stairs at the fair's Padiglione Centrale, we'll never know. Very few of them seemed to see it, busy as they were with the rest of the day's to-dos.

Pitti might have shaken Mabille out of his usual comfort zone, but in the end it didn't. In a palette of black and white with forays into delivery room pinks and blues, Mabille showed what he described as a mix of daywear and eveningwear, inspired by the nineteenth-century Parisian hot spot the Mabille Garden—"almost like a nightclub of today, but in the afternoon," as he explained it. Painted-on jeans, short shorts, knits knotted around the waist, and masses of buffalo check gave the garden party feeling, the disco element coming from sequins and studs. It was very casual and very young, two things its environs and their visitors are not. So what is the likeliest response. Mabille has just signed a new investor; a room of his own—in the form of a new store in Paris, with a second planned to follow just months later—arrives this fall.