MILAN
IT WAS A TRIP FROM THE RIDICULOUS TO THE SUBLIME, IN ONE LONG DAY.

Giorgio Armani: No one can touch him. The beauty and refinement of a Giorgio Armani collection is truly something to behold, and after four days of disco babies and sex kittens, his show Wednesday night seemed like something from another world. It's a world where women are graceful but still sexy. A world where colors are delicate rather than harsh. A world where soft beauty speaks louder than hard-edged hipness. No collection is perfect, but this came closer than most.
Armani started, as he always does, with the jacket. This season they were long and lean, but never tight--fluttering rather than clinging to the body. They were often teamed with bra tops and camisoles, and, in fact, one of the sexiest looks of the season is Armani's strict pinstripe suit over a slinky bandeau. For evening, the jackets became beaded chiffon fantasies, over floating gold handkerchief skirts.
As he showed the other day in his Emporio collection, Armani is moving in a more feminine direction. There were lace stockings, wisps of chiffon at the neck, delicate fabrics, pretty slingbacks and luminous makeup that glowed rather than glared. But his strongest feminine statement came through in Armani's new love for the dress. In floaty, romantic layers, his renditions looked as if they stepped right out of a midsummer night's dream.
Unfortunately, Armani got caught up in the whole breast craze, letting some bras shine through his sheer dresses and blouses or tossing them off completely. But that was a minor indiscretion in a collection the designer carefully orchestrated to reflect his exquisite subtlety.

Fendi: All you need is a big white blouse, some stretch HotPants and a chic little suede dress for the perfect summer. So says the Kaiser, who made a lightning visit to Milano to present his Fendi collection. Sure, there were a lot of other things in the show--like high-button jackets, handkerchief dresses and tons of cutouts--but Karl's real message was: Forget the fuss and keep it breezy. As for length, Karl had another clear statement: Stick with short. He did throw in a few long skirts, but summer is hot--rather like Milan has been all week--and who wants to swelter under a lot of fabric? This was a realistic collection, and might be just the thing Fendi needs to recover momentum in its ready-to-wear business. One thing is sure, they'll sell a lot of swimsuits, since Lagerfeld outdid himself--his bare strappy black bikinis with bold blocks of carnival colors will certainly be seen from Malibu to Monte Carlo.

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