MILAN — Brazenly sexy or incurably romantic — who said you can’t have it both ways? Designers here are trying their best to stir up consumer spending — on the one hand with microskirts, lots of flash and plenty of flesh, and on the other with a sea of ruffles and flourishes. And why not throw in bright colors, too? Sex ruled at Genny with skirts that were as brief as belts, peekaboo lace and languid silk satins. Grecian-style microdresses were revved up in abstract florals, while a recurring black herringbone lace was jazzed up with gold lamé insets. As for color, when it wasn’t black, it was all brights.Ruffo Research continues its revolving door policy, so out went Alexander Mathieu, the French design duo, and in came German designer Haider Ackermann. Held, as usual, in a former post office with peeling walls and puddles dotting the linoleum floor, the somber setting reflected the mood of the collection. Raw-edged leathers and suedes, either perforated or distressed, were cobbled into tapered trousers, bomber jackets, trench coats and knife-pleated skirts.Life, liberty and the pursuit of sexiness. That’s what Iceberg designer Paolo Gerani must have been thinking of when he sent out parchment-paper invites done up like the U.S. Bill of Rights, and then filled his show with steamy girls in denim HotPants, a supershort peasant number cut out on the sides, and glamorous halter-top jumpsuits. Flirty and luscious, the Iceberg girl prefers her heels high, her dresses short and her prints loud.Stephen Fairchild, for his part, played it sexy but safe, showing gauzy knit tank tops with embroidered silk pants, an off-the-shoulder sweater dotted with buttons along the neckline and plenty of clothes that had a vague military-safari feel. What did it all have to do with showgirl headdresses and crystal-studded eye patches? We may never know. All these props did was detract attention from clothes that probably would have looked better in the showroom.At Mariella Burani, opposites attract. Featherlight chiffon dresses, full ball skirts and gypsy-style numbers were paired with leather jackets, combat boots and chunky cowboy styles. On a similar note, classic silks and linens, with a wrinkled effect, were set off by big ethnic jewelry. A little editing would have helped this long show, especially since the message here was not exactly new.Full skirts with ornately embroidered hems, sheer organdy shifts and sequined pants reigned at Istvan Francer. He paired them with exquisitely tailored jackets, often embellished with Indian-inspired motifs in black, and burnout velvet tops in primary brights. Francer is backed by Fin.part, who picked him to design its Cerruti collection, which debuts in Paris next week.British designer Simon Kneen is also assuming double design duties this season. Currently the artistic director at Adrienne Vittadini, Kneen succeeded Francer at Maska and, in this first collection, he focused on what the company does best: tailored coats and jackets, either long and colorfully striped, or cropped at the waist. He paired them with polka-dot chiffon blouses and wide-legged fluid pants. Maurizio Pecoraro tempered his sometimes heavy couture hand and focused on a sleek cyber collection for spring. Graphic black- and-white prints swirled on silver minidresses and yellow cropped jackets were nipped at the waist, while wide-knit tops in fuchsia and orange were paired with cropped jogging pants. Think Judy Jetson mixed in with a touch of Courreges. With the exception of a beautiful beige chiffon dress with grommet details, Pecoraro stayed away from the ethereal looks that clients like Queen Rania of Jordan love so much. But there were still plenty of tailored jackets that should keep the Queen’s closet stocked. There wasn’t a steamy sexpot in sight on Luisa Beccaria’s runway. Ever ladylike, Beccaria’s woman prefers chiffon halter-top dresses, flared shantung skirts and suits embellished with jewel patterns that evoke Capri, circa 1940. But she can be sexy when she wants, too, with black lace or embroidered evening dresses. The delicate flower patterns that are a staple on the designer’s runway were a hit once more.Voyage designers Tiziano and Louise Mazzilli let loose with denim this season. That isn’t unusual for this design team, who have built a reputation with their wild takes on the rugged fabric, especially among celebrities and rock stars. They sent out a dazzling array of denim pieces, from low-rise jeans to floor-grazing skirts, charged up with cascades of sequins, African-inspired prints and graphics — and slashed in all the right places.

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