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Facets of Femininity – Salvatore Ferragamo, Etro, Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Moschino Cheap & Chic, Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti, Antonio Berardi

<STRONG>Salvatore Ferragamo:</STRONG> Black is back, and we’re not talking trends. In his return to Salvatore Ferragamo after a six-month hiatus, director of women’s ready-to-wear Graeme Black conjured up a mood that was wholly ladylike...

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Salvatore Ferragamo: Black is back, and we’re not talking trends. In his return to Salvatore Ferragamo after a six-month hiatus, director of women’s ready-to-wear Graeme Black conjured up a mood that was wholly ladylike with more than a nod to retro, and quiet from the first exit to the very last. Black is crazy for skirts that ride tight through the hips then flare or flounce at the hem, a silhouette he relied on throughout the show, though it may be a tough sell at retail. In the same ultrafeminine vein, peplum jackets came in everything from pinstriped wool to suede and coats in astrakhan were tailored and trim. Lightweight knits, including lacy sweaters and those gussied up with curling ruffles, were some of the loveliest pieces. Meanwhile, Black’s sportif evening look — sweaters with haute glam full skirts — was gentle as can be.

Etro: Bright circular patterns were projected against the backdrop, underscoring the lofty message in the press notes: Dadaism “is an elegant, open-minded jump from one harmonious world to another along different aesthetic spheres.” So Veronica Etro delivered her Dada manifesto at Etro with a head-to-toe orgy of contrasting prints, colors and textures, not to mention shapes.

The range ran from Seventies circles in watered-down colors to tapestry florals, and from the house’s signature paisley prints to the current fascination with all things British via a patchwork of flannels, stripes and chevrons. Tossed in between were animal stripes, scarf prints, fur flourishes and twinkling metallics.

As for shapes, Etro played up coats, often cut close to the body, sometimes belted, sometimes short and swingy. For the most part, these were worn over minis, colorblocked pleated skirts, boho dresses and printed silk shirts. On the runway, Etro likes to drive home her point with a the-more-the-merrier attitude. But girls with a discerning eye can pick out the many great separates in this collection and put them together in their own way.

Alessandro Dell’Acqua: Party animals don’t usually fret over sensible daywear. They just look to Alessandro Dell’Acqua to supply them with the sexy looks they crave for their nocturnal outings — itty-bitty shapes, peekaboo silks and lots of frills. For fall, the Neapolitan designer said he worked three key elements into his collection: erotic, rock and Sixties, all styled à la Kate Moss. In other words, sensually disheveled.

This story first appeared in the February 28, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

To wit, Dell’Acqua put his rumple-haired, kohl-eyed bimbettes in purple baby dolls with lace insets or longer versions splashed with huge flowers. Black bras were veiled with lace tops, furs were tossed over lacy negligees and gold and silver sequined minis were paired with black or wallpaper-patterned jackets. Plenty of sizzle, Dell’Acqua style.

Moschino Cheap & Chic: Everyone knows that, when it comes to Moschino Cheap & Chic, creative director Rosella Jardini gets to indulge her campier side. Remember those sweet Hawaiian tourist-clad grannies from last season? This time around, Jardini is climbing mountains. Despite the inexplicable soundtrack of Gene Kelly crooning tunes from “An American in Paris,” the collection was a dizzying romp through the Austrian Alps.

Jardini’s girls sported Tyrolean jackets overloaded with tons of ribbon patches and rosettes, worn over poppy-print dresses and full skirts with swags of taffeta threaded through their scallop-edged hems, all topped off with an alpine hat or huge headband spelling out “ciao” or “love.” The total effect was as if Maria Von Trapp made these clothes not only out of curtains, but out of everything she could get her hands on. When Jardini went simpler, as in a striped sweater with an ombréd flapper shimmy skirt or an oatmeal knit paired with a pouf-tiered plaid skirt, the result was more chic than cheap.

Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti: Saturday’s Philosophy collection was staged in the not-so-wild West, where Alberta Ferretti’s casual cowgirl kicked up a little dust. The Western motif meant overt styling, in the form of sheriff’s stars, cowboy boots and five-gallon hats. But buried under those cornball trappings was a tiny herd of cute clothes. A shrunken plaid wool jacket was worn over a flirty dress in a vintage floral print. A denim shirt was glammed up with silver grommets, while scrolling suede appliqués on suede skirts and even at the waist of a pretty chiffon dress gave a nod to classic Western boots. Fringed fare was a little too costume-y, but, on the whole, Ferretti made a convincing case for frontier fashion.

Antonio Berardi: Pumped-up soufflé collars and voluminous looks may be charging down most Milan runways, but all that flou is nothing new chez Berardi, where a collection isn’t complete without a floor-sweeping gown so full a girl could hide her friends under it. But those sorts of looks are just eye and editorial candy, because what Berardi excels at is supersharp tailoring mixed with whimsical feminine details. For example, a crisp suit cut from baby blue-and-ecru ecclesiastical lace was sprinkled with tonal Swarovski crystals, while a high-waisted pencil skirt was topped by a swingy paneled coat trimmed with chandelier-sized sparklers.

Berardi loves to work a romantic theme as well, this time opting for a saucy gypsy type, whose caravan wagon was  perched at the top of the runway. Soft silk ruffles flowed down sleeves or were used liberally as trim on full skirts and dresses. The prettiest, a fluttering silk dress printed in pale blue oversized paisley,was perfect for any fashion-loving Esmeralda.

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