Alessandro Dell’Acqua is definitely pushing No. 21 to the next level. Established in the upper-contemporary niche, the label is now moving to the luxury arena; prices might remain competitive, but both style and quality have been elevated to major-league standards.

Continuing on the path he started with last fall’s collection, Dell’Acqua focused more on experimentation, delivering a spring lineup that was less commercial, more mature and more creative than his past efforts. Inspired by the photographic styles of Corinne Day and Tina Modotti, he combined the former’s Nineties roughness with the softer, more feminine approach of the latter. This translated into a collection with fragile and delicate constantly juxtaposed against masculine and taut.

Lightweight, silk-frilled slipdresses and fluid chiffon frocks printed with a subdued cigarette pattern were worn over white cotton tank tops — an attitude that immediately called to mind the Helmut Lang era. A workwear-inspired jumpsuit was crafted from lace, while a ribbed sweater decorated with pleated silk flowers was cut in a slouchy, oversize shape.

Dell’Acqua also introduced a subtle Latin American-inspired theme, with pom-poms and flounces decorating a range of pieces, such as a sensual asymmetric pencil skirt and eccentric flat sandals. Everything was infused with a rebellious feel, which added extra charm to a collection that communicated a distorted — and a bit provocative — sense of beauty.

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