An abandoned paper factory, poetic in its worn stone plainness was preparing for new life.
But this regeneration on the outskirts of Milan was not about books or paper but about fashion: Emilio Pucci in the hands of a new designer, who does not feel the need to go back to the label founder's aristocratic heritage in Florence; nor his relationship with the burgeoning mid-century jet set.
"I don't like clothes that smell of vintage," said Massimo Giorgetti — known for his dynamic, popular MSGM label — and for Emilio Pucci this season he decided on an interpretation of 'la dolce vita', translating and updating those louche and glamorous 1960s.
"My first rule is to be now," said the designer, pointing to a mood board made up of many intriguing images, including a juvenile Kate Moss and a drawing of mermaids wearing Native American headbands.
Sounds of the sea, from fishing nets to shells, reverberated through the collection. But if there were new versions of the signature swirling Pucci prints, I missed them in the mêlée.
On the runway were some graphic black-and-white dresses, the lines at an angle.
The mood was sporty: fast foot forward in narrow pants and long, slim dresses. Both might be covered with sparkle, giving a sun-on-sea glaze to the fabric.
There was a sense of fine and detailed workmanship. And as flower-patterned dresses and those mermaid prints took the catwalk, the clothes looked pleasant enough.
But where was the heart of Emilio? Surely not in a grass-green, long coat swinging over a matching lace dress?
"The emotion of Emilio Pucci was not only Vivara (the fragrance) and collage prints," Massimo insisted.
I didn't dislike the collection, which was colourful and coherent. But I thought of Emilio Pucci himself, noble on his parade horse surrounded by Florentine flags. And I could not feel his spirit at all.