By  on February 21, 2008

The fall collections offered considerable variety, including lean and serene looks, feminine party frocks and graphic, colorful patchwork styles.

6267: The fashion crowd wants a buzzy boost in Milan, and they've been rooting for Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi. Six seasons in, their fall collection showed that they are indeed up to the mantle. Staged under a cathedral ceiling to the sounds of a live eight-piece string ensemble, the presentation set a tone of serene grandeur — of the more Paris than Milan sort — one that was echoed entirely by the lineup. Black, white and an occasional shot of pale pink governed the quiet palette, which expanded to include inky prints. As for silhouettes, whether long and lean, as in maxi military coats and body-skimming, vaguely Asian dresses, or quietly voluminous, they were always sharp. While several pieces were lavished with feather embroideries and beading, the main flourishes came by way of architectural curves, on swinging skirts, cocoon coats and dramatic collars that were curled out of silk. Aquilano and Rimondi should be careful not to get carried away with the decorative tubing effects, or referencing, for that matter. Notes of Balenciaga fall 2006 rang clear as a bell with the silver-buttoned epaulet coats and the black-and-white checked fare. Still, the level of sophistication and execution was far above par.

Roberto Cavalli: Sorry, sexy ladies, Roberto Cavalli's apparently gone soft for fall. The sultan of sizzle shelved his signature bombshell — not a gauzy animal print or sexy siren dress in sight — in favor of the girl next door, an old-fashioned one, no less. She started out as sweet and dainty, turned out for tea in floral-print and eyelet party frocks that were fitted through the bodice and bloomed into full, Fifties-style skirts. And by the show's end, she was off to a prom in a lace or ruffled dress, topped off with a corsage and tiara. Such dated innocence was confounding, even more so considering the Parisian-opera backdrop. Factor in the strange exotic interlude of dresses, fur-trimmed waistcoats and shearling coats done up in exotic floral embroideries the color of stained glass, and it was obvious what this collection needed. It comes in the form of a little blue pill.Antonio Marras: In his show notes Antonio Marras said that he accidentally stumbled upon a Charlotte Salomon exhibition in New York and became obsessed with the power of the artist's work and colors. But Marras steered clear of a literal interpretation, using the inspiration to enhance his signature tailoring skills and love of interesting fabric mixes. He worked the artsy references via one of his specialties — collages of varied fabrics and textures, both matte and shiny. This time, the effect was graphic and colorful, as he crafted patchworks into short-sleeve coats with rounded drop shoulders, full strapless dresses with pleated fronts and loose tank tops. Marras also flexed his sartorial muscle with a more mannish silhouette that included pants and lots of beefy wool double-breasted coats, slim blazers and boxy jackets. In Marras' hands, a little power dressing with an artsy bent can go a long way.

More From the Shows

Agnona: Discreet luxury is Agnona's forte, and its fur-collared cardigans, funnel-neck chevron coats and ribbed knit peacoats, many in oatmeal cashmere, are the sort of timeless staples the Agnona woman covets.

Loro Piana: Loro Piana took a breather from its tech-savvy fare and went back to unadulterated luxury with its latest trademark, Baby Cashmere, done double-faced in a stylish, silky white cape with a silvery sable collar and in some covetable cable knits in velvety shades of taupe, beige and dove gray.

Dusan: Working with a rounded silhouette, designer Dusan Paunovic did easy, throw-it-on chic in a lineup of attractive, fluid outerwear such as oversize silk and wool dégradé blazers, choc-and-navy cashmere blanket coats and an egg-shaped silk plissé parka.

Krizia: Mariuccia Mandelli dubbed her collection "Seven Types of Ambiguity," and it seemed apt, because, aside from a few appealing architectural coats and column gowns, most of the lineup, including a giant-paillette skirt and a bristly bottle brush-like frock, was simply baffling.

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