Extreme contrast is the Giambattista Valli essence: short/long, masculine/feminine. It was more intriguing than usual with his latest collection. Valli's clothes and clientele define an indolent, brittle beauty, but here, the designer was influenced by filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini and Arte Povera master Alighiero Boetti—right away, that injected something rough-edged, real-ish. As left-field as such a notion sounded, the couture slant of Positano-ready opening outfits that featured bared midriffs and shorts pleated into aerodynamic Capucci folds was soon followed by dresses jacquarded with Boetti's word pieces (earlier this season, Jil Sander went there, too). Other outfits were inspired by the burlap sacking in which coffee beans are transported.

Valli kept up the contrasts, counterpointing the rough-and-readiness of burlap with flurries of floral appliqué or gilded sheaves of wheat. But the overwhelming impression of this collection was one of heartfelt simplicity: pared-down silhouettes, hand-painted stripes, waists cinched by cords of gold. Sheerness has many implications in fashion. One of the most obvious is the notion of nothing to hide. You could apply that to this collection and run with it. Valli was offering his own take on authenticity. And if you could find a neorealist, Pasolini-esque gem in the heart of the clothing on display, then his work here was done.