When making his catwalk debut, the Viennese designer, who now calls Milan home, did not disappoint his audience’s expectations, presenting, as always, something special and bringing a taste of Mitteleuropean-style to Italy. While other young Italian designers appear to do everything in their power to offer brightly colored, eye-popping collections, ever-anxious to bring us innovative, contemporary, over-the-top prints and patterns, Arthur Arbesser made us stop and think with a show simply brimming over with content. At the Palazzo Reale’s Sala Delle Cariatidi, an air of expectancy reigned thanks to a melancholy song intoned by Arbesser’s longtime buddy Jordan Hunt of The Irrepressibles, an iconic band and a symbol of rebellious, gender-free love, and the sculpture of a giant cat overlooking the runway. The animal became a metaphor of the themes of the collection, namely the emotion and fear of discovery of self that adolescence causes us to face. Arbesser draws inspiration from the work of Balthus, the French artist of Polish origin whose work portrays these domestic dramas: the loss of purity, the discovery of one’s own sexuality and one’s body — in a certain sense, we might say, the pain of embarking upon adulthood. Inspired by this world of tenderness and purity, Arthur brings us prints and silhouettes referencing a fragile world that is slowly changing. Prints reminiscent of the 1960s featuring delicate painted flowers, based on the watercolors by illustrator Agathe Singer, gracefully adorn the bodies of Lolita-like models who, like the Balthus models themselves, have an erotic, subversive edge. The Nordic, hard-edged geometry of his previous collections was softened in favor of a platonic idea of romanticism, giving the impression that he too has been influenced by the desire for sweetness and misty feelings, a theme that is currently making a comeback in the international Fashion System. Volumes were thus reduced on dresses in paper-thin technical nylon, cotton crepe, knitted net bonded with transparent nylon, and a variety and abundance of fluid silk. As in all of his collections, the young designer focused particular attention on creative knitwear. Arthur plays with chromatically symmetrical and asymmetrical effects enhanced by touches of light blue and red. Oversized Bermudas, ruffled at the waist resembled rich skirts, while playful uniforms in pastel shades served as a stark contrast to those in deep green, expressing a form of playful seductiveness. Possibly because this was Arbesser's first proper catwalk show in Milan, this collection — more than the others — appeared to reflect the purer, more dreamy side of his personality without however detracting from his other voice, which continues to be imbued with strength and passion.