MILAN (AP) — Costume National hung out an "under construction" sign on the long-awaited Milan return of its women's collection.

The phrase described both the space where designer Ennio Capasa staged the company's return after a 23-year stint in Paris and the looks themselves.

Capasa purposely sought out the raw, concrete subterranean cavern beneath a glass high-rise to unveil his new collection, which he dubbed "De-Construct-Re-Construct."

"I constructed this collection by freely assembling and reassembling patterns to give each piece a sense of ease," the designer said in his notes for the show Thursday on the second day of Milan Fashion Week.

Exploring the limits of tailoring, Capasa left lots of spaces uncovered — bare curves between the breasts, high arches on the back. Straps helped to anchor the gilets, jackets and halters securely in place. The looks were finished with skirts — to-the-ankle, slit A-lines, or at-the-knee pencil — and cropped trousers. Silhouettes were loose.

The designer stuck to strong colors: black and white, with some acid yellow and coverall blue. Footwear was either pointed shoes with thin straps or open-toe sandals, always on a wedge.

And the question remains: Is Costume National back to stay or was this merely a nod of solidarity to the label's native Italy?

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