By and  on February 27, 2006

MILAN - The Italian collections bid "arrivederci" to ruffles and excessive bling, while saying "buongiorno" to everything from austerity to disco glam.

"A diverse season, with sex to sobriety," was how Ann Stordahl, executive vice president of women's apparel at Neiman Marcus, summed up the season. "There is so much diversity, which will be good for business."

The runway shows, which wrapped up over the weekend, referenced everything from the Renaissance to the Nineties - and almost every era in between - which buyers said will give consumers plenty of choices come fall.

Linda Fargo, fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, said the newness in terms of narrow pants and platform shoes should bode well for business. "It stimulates people to rethink themselves, how they present themselves, and shop," she said.

Widely praised collections included Marni, Dolce & Gabbana, Jil Sander, Prada, Burberry Prorsum, Fendi, 6267 and Giorgio Armani.

Pants, from skinny to wide-legged, emerged as a key item, along with big-sleeved blouses, cropped jackets, voluminous coats, jersey dresses, short skirts and military jackets.

Still, some retailers lamented a too-dark color palette and fabrications that were often too heavy for what seems to be a warming planet.

Here's what buyers had to say about the Italian season:

Michael Fink, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:

"I'm giving a big bravo to Milan for creating controversy and diversity. I've never heard so many 'I hate' and 'I love' comments after a season. Highlights included the luxurious, strict silhouette of Raf Simons at Jil Sander, Prada's urban guerrillas, Gucci's disco divas and Roberto Cavalli's gilded Fortuny aristocrats. We loved the linear silhouette with slim pants, the play of maxi versus mini length that was all over the runways and the textured knitwear and wide-legged pants. As for accessories, no woman will want to be without leggings, boots and multiple pairs of gloves. 6267 was one of our favorites. In a short time, they have developed a very distinct voice."

Jennifer Wheeler, director of designer apparel, Nordstrom:

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