In a spring season in which less is more, some designers stayed faithful to their favorite romantic and bohemian themes, while others embraced the virtues of (relative) simplicity.

Marni: There were some familiar characters at Consuelo Castiglioni's party, although, as the best hosts will tell you, it's always important to bring in a little fresh blood. Instead, Castiglioni whipped up a Marni remix of toned-down tiki prints and streaky abstracts, all finished off with hobby-craft jewelry in plastic and crochet. The mood was midcentury modern; the silhouette, bulky and cinched.

What looked newest, however, was Castiglioni's most minimal color-blocked fare, like an easy shirtdress of spliced gray and coral. Rough-edged jackets and tropical shifts would make a pleasant if predictable addition to any Marni wardrobe. What was missing was that Marni joie de vivre and a dose of Castiglioni's fresh-scrubbed glee.

Blugirl: Carla Fracci, one of Italy's most famous prima ballerinas, once said, "Ballet is music, and music is rhythm." For Anna Molinari and her spring Blugirl collection, it can be said that sequins are fashion, and fashion is a schizophrenic dancer who can't quite settle down with one discipline. She pas de bourrées out of flouncy tutus and snug wrap cardigans into tan suede HotPants and embroidered silver cowboy boots and then two-steps into dark red, tiered tango dresses or slim smoking pants.

The show started sweetly and playfully enough with an engaging performance by students from Teatro alla Scala's School of Ballet. The initial looks — paillette tank dresses that appeared to be covered in snow and ice, layered tulle skirts and creamy pastel knits — were a girly homage to Degas' tiny dancers. But then the unexpected shift from "Swan Lake" to "These Boots Are Made for Walking" was as jarring as a flexed-foot arabesque. If Molinari had committed to one dance genre instead of four, Blugirl could have really had them dancing in their seats.

La Perla: Each season, it's a challenge for Alessandro Dell'Acqua to inject fresh ideas into a collection that began with lingerie, as La Perla did. So it's just as well that flimsy boudoir looks are a Dell'Acqua specialty — as was clear from the first group out: snug blouses and corsets in dainty floral prints, paired with woven cotton and macramé lace pencil skirts.But instead of continuing down that road, Dell'Acqua took a detour this season, picking up reels of cream and black lace that he fashioned into skirts and dusters, inserted into cotton tops and bottoms as whimsical circles or used as overlays. Never too racy or trashy, these clothes are right for a lady who likes to exude a little steam when she floats in and out of cocktail parties.

Pollini: Rifat Ozbek has a nomadic fashion vision, and he likes to blend a melting pot of cultural references in his collections. Spring was no exception, as the Turkish designer stirred up an exuberant mix of Andalusian matador looks, Sixties references, a punkish undercurrent and romantic flourishes.

Translated to the runway, that meant boleros over skinny silk dresses, an optical teardrop print developed especially for the designer cut in slim pants, nipped jackets and skirts. The romantic vein emerged via fluid shapes, lace insets, puckered cap sleeves and built-in silk chiffon capelets, though Ozbek tempered the girly nostalgia with metal safety pins. This was not one of Ozbek's best efforts, since, at times, the collection lacked the scope and fantasy of his customary global vision.

Borbonese: Since Alessandro Dell'Acqua took the creative reins at Borbonese in 2000, he has made a point of going back to the company's heritage — finely crafted accessories. And since then, he has also succeeded in building a ready-to-wear business with edgy clothes that have caught the eye of such celebrities as Hilary Swank, Halle Berry and Paris Hilton.

For spring, the designer showcased his total look, in an avalanche of white and a sea of black, with some brown, blue denim and metallics tossed in. Pristine dusters, belted sports jackets piped in lizard and cotton muslin caftans were shown with hammered leather bags trimmed in gold hardware, double-handle crocodile styles and elegant clutches. Stepping into bling-bling mode, there were ornate high-heeled platform sandals with rhinestoned soles.

It all made for a perfect moment to celebrate the brand's 50th anniversary. Buon compleanno!

Maurizio Pecoraro: Maurizio Pecoraro is one of those Italian designers who quietly glide under the radar. Consistency in harnessing his creative eye has been his greatest hurdle, since he vacillates from poised embellishment one season to kooky trickery the next. Yet when he's on, as he was for spring, the results are striking, feminine clothes.Pecoraro started with a subtle palette of barely there pewters, creams and faint lilacs and gingerly added shells, crystals, transparent stones and rose appliqués to balanced effect. Belted dresses with full pleated, raw-edged skirts; high-waisted, knife-pleated silk shantung skirts, and slim linen pants were feminine but never girly. The terrific collection gave fashion that much-needed middle road between the stark and the embellished.

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