"She's an aristocratic woman who travels to Provence in a hot-air balloon at the beginning of the last century." Francesco Scognamiglio said before his show tonight. "It's a trip," he added. Scognamiglio is familiar enough with those; he's been off on one esoteric tangent or another for years now. He also makes beautiful clothes—the cotton blouses inset with lace or embroidered with birds that he showed with floor-scraping maxi skirts for Spring were lovely, and suits cut with double-breasted jackets and drop-crotch pants prove he's no slouch in the tailoring department either.

So why hasn't Scognamiglio broken through? This season, at least, we're going to blame his reliance on almost exclusively sheer fabrics. Women at the beginning of the last century wore underpinnings. With his love for lace, Scognamiglio could build a profitable side business making lingerie. Why not? At the very least, the new design challenge might spur thoughts about avenues of growth.