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There was a little something for everyone, as Milan designers did what came naturally: Giorgio Armani showed the scope of his designs at Emporio Armani, while Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi blended geishas and Jane Austen for 6267, Graeme Black went Seventies at Salvatore Ferragamo and ironically ladylike looks turned up at Moschino.
Emporio Armani: “Beyond trends” boasted the set backdrop. That was after the video prelude in which Beyoncé had her way with Marilyn Monroe’s sexpot standard about a girl’s best friend in the commercial that hawks Emporio Armani’s new Diamonds fragrance.
If such blatant salesmanship to the industry gang struck some as a bit gauche, well, you don’t make billions without flaunting the merch. And so even though the clip had little to do with the collection visually, it fit in conceptually given that this was one of Armani’s merchiest presentations in recent memory, as he mined his exhaustive creative portfolio for clothes “safely rooted in the Armani tradition.” Within that impressive expanse, he covered the turf and then some — an updated little of this and a newfangled little of that — and along the way showed some fine clothes. How could he not? He’s got boatloads in his repertoire.
But in going beyond trends, Armani drove past a coherent collection as well. Power-woman curves, gentler tailoring, librarian dirndls, beachy tank-and-mini combos, fringed shimmy shakers, variations on tricky pants — he had it all covered. At one point, the coed cool gang came out en masse, wearing the requisite all-black, shades and plenty of attitude, only to be followed by twinkle, twinkle little panties — two cute sweater girls in sparkle briefs. The assortment spoke well to Armani’s vast range, but offered no clear statement of Emporio’s point of view for spring.
6267: Designers Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi delivered a masterfully controlled geisha-meets-Jane Austen collection that was confident and sophisticated. A drop-shoulder kimono jacket over a silk waffle skirt perfectly coexisted. And in a terrific series of cocktail dresses, beautiful watercolor floral sheaths played to the Japanese mood while full-blown tent dresses in garden prints had a more British flavor. The design duo has a knack for crafting pieces that are elaborate but never excessive. Case in point: a sheer beaded tunic that could stand on its own, but looked equally terrific over a pair of skinny satin pants. In just a few years, Aquilano and Rimondi have moved beyond the media-darling phase and are committed to building a strong business.
Salvatore Ferragamo: Add Ferragamo to the growing list of those showing big love for the Seventies. After fall’s Eighties power parade, Graeme Black rewound further still to the last days of disco for his final collection at the house. In terms of practical fare, wide-leg trousers and simple knee-length skirts, most cinched with a wide belt, were user-friendly. But for the most part, Black was more interested in putting on the glitz. Flowing one-shouldered goddess gowns and gauzy, floor-sweeping shirtdresses should suit a glamour girl just fine, particularly if she’s on vacation. But the sequin jumpsuit and romper were all-out boogie night, and slinky low-cut styles in a peachy palette channeled the polyester period a little too convincingly.
Moschino: An oversize bow, a peplum jacket, a swish and a swag. They’re all hallmarks of Moschino’s established style — a studied approach to ladylike silhouettes with a little irony tossed in for good measure. For spring, said irony came in the form of giant plastic buttons, molded like square-cut gems. The jersey jackets, sequined pleated miniskirts and mini shirtdresses met the Moschino m.o., but this season the clothes seemed more pedestrian than witty. Like any great comedian, even Milan fashion’s perennial satirist needs to change the routine every now and then.
Anna Molinari: Rossella Tarabini ditched her girly girl of yore at Anna Molinari — a move she began with last season’s Mod tribute — and has now replaced her with an edgy rock chick of the Debbie Harry-meets-Edie Sedgwick variety. The first looks in her nicely edited collection worked a masculine vibe: clean crisp jackets and slouchy boyfriend sweaters coolly tossed over pleated schoolgirl skirts. Then came a parade of two-tone striped numbers, both in body-hugging knits that were artily spliced with color-blocked pops of purple, and billowing full-sleeve frocks. While Tarabini may be one of the few designers in this Seventies-flush season to work an Eighties motif, she managed to chicly address other currents pulsing through the collections — namely transparency and animalia in sheer one-shouldered dresses and a black ombré leopard blazer — without losing any of her New Wave currency.
Pringle of Scotland: Clare Waight Keller’s summery optimism made for a most pleasant collection at Pringle. She worked a loose silhouette, which included easy cropped khakis, colorful layered knits with silk details, swingy shifts in geometric prints and butter-soft cropped bombers, all the while never losing structure. By using the house’s expertise in knitwear (tissue-weight pieces abounded) as a stepping-stone, not a crutch, Waight Keller is not only finding her path but joyfully skipping along it as well.
Antonio Marras: Antonio Marras has a romantic and poetic vision, and this season he expressed it in a series of intriguing collages, some flaunting an abstract motif with a slightly dark undercurrent, others pieced together in beautiful stylized florals. Either way, Marras brought a lovely lyricism to strong graphics, as in the burgundy, rose and silver color-blocked evening dress layered in a mélange of fabrics or loosely cut shifts in a mix of satin, gauze and glitter. He also went for shine with pleated and bejeweled tunics over skirts, and black cocktail frocks with glittering bodices. And at the end, Marras decided one finale wasn’t enough, so he had several, starting with a series of white dresses, then a bride and, finally, an endless lineup of models under a shimmering waterfall wearing Forties-style swimsuits in more collages. What a piece of work.
Romeo Gigli: Summer chez Romeo Gigli is a high-spirited affair filled with effortlessly stylish clothes and a coquettish attitude. In her second season as the house’s creative director, Gentucca Bini focused on easy-breezy shapes such as fluid pants in parachute silk, boxy cropped tops and jackets, cotton dresses and embroidered yoke skirts. Her sense of color further upped the cheerfulness factor as Bini worked mix-and-match earthy hues, golds, pastels and gem tones in combinations that were never too strident.