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STRONG WOMEN.  That might have been the theme of this year’s incomparable fashion shows in Milan, as designer after designer paraded out well dressed, independent looking women who apparently could take care of themselves in any situation, including the present recession. 


In fact, the economic situation was practically ignored, as a bevy of very self-contained fashion presentations gave up nothing in their exuberance and élan.  Austerity is apparently not the Italian way!


MOST OF THE FASHIONS were sophisticated and dark, but colors did come through with lightening power.  Shine lit up the runways, with slithery shiny golds, as in Etro’s gold lame skirt.  There was also no small amount of warrior looks present, as in Roberto Cavalli’s stunning suit with metallic silver under-blouse, black leather gloves and black fur collar. The whole ensemble had an elegant but unmistakable medieval armor effect.


More warrior nation looks came from Francesco Scognamiglio – in broad shouldered ruffled sleeved jackets that hung long and sported plenty of brass buttons, set off by a same color satiny blouse. He also showed above-the-knee leather boots with gold ball buttons up the sides, again, very militaristic. 



  • Fleur de Lis pins with pave crystals give classic beauty with a tinge of European military style. 



                                                 Big Collars


KNITS TOOK the spotlight in many top collections, such as Dsquared and Pringle of Scotland.  In both instances, shoulders were emphasized, with big fur collars and trims.  Grey skirts predominated, along with rich grey turtle neck sweaters and little grey newsboy caps


Alessandro Dell’Acqua showed a stunning little evening dress with a puff of  grey tassel extending over the shoulder, naturally elongating it, and heavy clusters of silver sequins over a metallic-netted dress that, again, might have been armor,. 


Big little jackets and slim skirts presented a definite ’09 look.  Quilted vests like one from Giuliana Teso gave the same effect.


                                        Country Girls/City Girls


PRADA PLAYED WITH IMAGES of country girls and city girls, mixing them up here, separating them there, and in all instances, dressing them in real, extraordinary clothes that were sometimes sexy, sometimes glamorous, but in all instances, very wearable. 


Hip high boots that might be used for fly-fishing accessorized a number of Prada’s outfits. The major color here was black. Carrying on with the dark look, hair was pulled back in obviously teased bunches, with a grayish, deathly, unkempt look.  Many eyes were blackened.  The look was an attention-getter, but not really attractive.


Prada also featured lots of black, brown, and grey, the big colors of the season. There was lots of split seaming.  These were very sophisticated looks, exquisitely tailored and fit, jazzed up by hot embellishments, like black-on-black embroideries, leather strips, metal pieces, and flocked velvet insets.


                                               More Black


FUR CLUTCHES, gem studded high heeled hooker shoes, lots of sleeveless dresses, shiny jackets over thin skirts, hot mini dress looks, big handbags and skinny little belts were just some of the major points to notice at these shows.


Giorgio Armani presented an aristocratic look that could go down in history for its classic, yet timely beauty.  Wonderful suits, with light gray jackets and dark little skirts, over-one-shoulder evening dresses in shimmery metallic materials, plenty of embellished hats, very black, worn jauntily on the side of the head.  He also showed a number of capes, and good looking shawl collared shrugs.  Brooches were big here.  So was sparkle.


Burberry Prorsum was big on trench coats in a very British WWII style, and Scottish highlander looks in big knits over full skirts.


Gucci was as edgy as ever, with big black sunglasses and wildly shiny jackets and pants in shiny snake-like materials, with broad tough-guy shouldered jackets.  But wow!  What a look!


ONE OUTFIT FEATURED blue and silver jacket and pants in prints that almost but not quite matched, very European.  Gucci also showed a sizzling orange red shortie dress with big black polka dots, and to-the-hip black leather boots.  Black cuffs finished the look.  The overall collection was very real, very glitzy, very hot, and very, very Gucci.







  • Multi-colored bangle bracelets have real Italian style and feel for reasonable cost.


                                Change on the Way?


AN INTERESTING DRESS from Bottega Veneta was tan colored, with short sleeves and tight bodice over a tight but gathered skirt.  The thing to notice here was the bustline, all very natural, small, braless. 

—The question here: Is this a precursor of things to come?  With all the tightly controlled huge faux breasts around, it doesn’t seem quite possible, but…here it was.  It would be a major fashion change. 


Clean structured shapes gave a certain conservative flair to the runways this year.  Boxy rectangular jackets were attractive, as were two-toned pants.  Prints were present, if not in abundance, and interesting, with sparkles scattered here and there for an updated 09 look. 


Alberta Ferretti played with textiles and colors in a rich, Italian fashion, putting hot pinks and bright blues together with grays and browns.  Sequins, beads, lames and nets all played important overlay roles in her collection.  Moschino brought up military looks and plenty of fifties fashion for a fascinating retro approach.  Houndstooth prints gave masculine verve to flouncy and full dresses.


ACCESSORIES WERE BUILT-IN, rather than just added on, to fashion looks.  Handle bags were important, many of them very large, with embellishments adding a lush, if somewhat downplayed, richness.  Super high platform heels were the standard designer choice, rising out of their porno-shoe origins by virtue of their exquisite craftsmanship. GLOVES were all over the runways.  That means all kinds of gloves, long, extra long, short, fabric, leather, you name it. 



  • Black Murano-style pendant with streaks of copper suspended on multiple cords.  A fabulous look at wholesale prices!







                                                     La Dolce Vita


EMBELLISHMENT WAS ON everything, not quite as glitzy as we’ve seen in former seasons, but certainly there!  In many instances, the embellishment Look was a quieter, darker approach to new fashion, coming in as dark silver on black, or even black on black.  Big dark sunglasses gave everything a kind of La Dolce Vita appearance, terribly urban, almost decadent. Boots rose up up up to the hips, mostly all of them black, tight and shiny.  Little booties were also big.


Overall, there was a lot of attention given to the neck and throat.  Designs swirled out from the neck to create big, often pointy shoulders.  Scarves and turtle necks were hot.  Knits that wrapped around the neck were seen in many different collections.  Also important: The waist. To emphasize that, belts of every description reigned supreme on the runways.  Little skinny belts, big wrap belts, and everything in between.


Metallic looks have never been so important.  In many instances, the metal is so pervasive, it ends up giving the outfit a very strong warrior look.  In other instances, the metallic approach featured silvery netting or metal flower clusters on dresses and coats. 


CUFFS COULD BE SEEN at a variety of houses, along with black lace and fishnet stockings.  Fur was big, not so much in full coats as in little shrugs, collars, cuffs, clutch bags, etc.  Hats also came off handsomely, especially little, close to the head hats, like cloches and turbans, and side-worn berets.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

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