"Where's my punk spirit?" wondered the U.K. band Wave Machines on the soundtrack of the new Costume National show.
The question could equally have been posed backstage by designer Ennio Capasa as he pondered the challenges he faced.
"We need new freedom," he declared, "to make room for a new generation." That explains a model casting that was practically fetal in its youthfulness.
Boys scurried past like damned poètes maudits, hair streaming, faces blank with inexperience. A little punk spirit wouldn't have gone amiss, either, on the catwalk or in the clothes.
Capasa insisted he wanted to bring "a symbolic jungle into our metropolis," but rather than an injection of the exotic, there was instead a sense of the deep torpor that can be induced by tropical humidity.
The clothes looked limp, occasionally even lingerielike, as in linen gauze shirts woven as loosely as lace, or a satin shorts suit that would have looked A-OK on Sadie Thompson. Likewise, the tone-on-tone floral embroideries.
The collection's exotic Angkor Wat motifs and hybrid safari/army forms suggested an exploratory expedition (and Commander Capasa certainly looked ready for adventure with his shaved head), but the quest was, for him, emotional rather than physical.
The overpowering sense left by the show was that the designer might be reaching for something new without really having the necessary grasp.