Francesco Scognamiglio's fashion is quintessentially Italian - well, one type of Italian. There couldn't be anything further away from Scognamiglio style than the cool, collected corporate suiting of Cerruti or Armani. Scognamiglio skews south, down Calabria way. What does that mean? It means often flashy, sometimes trashy, and always high-octane high fashion. Think Versace, think Dolce - think of an Italian widow as curvy as Gina Lollobrigida, teetering in a veil and artfully seamed black weeds and already looking for husband number two (or three, or four). He may be a comparatively new boy on the megabrand Milano block, but Scognamiglio punches with the big guns when it comes to Milan's attention-grabbing razzmatazz.
For spring 2012, however, Scognamiglio decided to underdress his woman. Well, maybe it was more undressing than underdressing - that seems far more Italiano. Rather than underwear as outerwear, Scognamiglio proposed underwear for everywhere. Lingerie details became the building-block of his range, from conventional lace-injected wafer-thin georgette slip-dresses and flirty petticoats through chantilly-inserted shirts and even a blazer in fine bobbin-lace, the whole lot coloured in knicker-drawer shades of aquamarine, peach, black and creamy white. Scognamilio loves a bit of raciness, but despite the theme he kept much of his offering demure: well, kind of. A prim high-collared shirt may have sheer panels chopped in just over the breasts, a knee-length pencil skirt sporting a stiff ruffle framing a window of transparency over the crotch. At the same time, you add a lining and those catwalk stunts become comparatively un-shocking glimpses of stocking, adding a frisson of kink to these otherwise terribly pretty clothes.
Pretty feels pretty new for Scognamiglio. Often, his fashion walks a fine line between good taste and bad. Thinking back to Gianni, Domenico and Stefano, that's a big part of this side of Italian fashion too. But today Scognamiglio resisted falling off the tightrope into the ridiculous - a place he has ended up a few times before - and instead gave us refinement, and lots of it. Even those ruffle-edged crotch-shots somehow looked provocative and seductive rather than pornographic and slutty. In any designers hands that would be difficult, but in Scognamiglio's they represented a true triumph.