By  on February 22, 2008

As Milan Fashion Week came to a close, the looks on the runway included everything from stylish suits to snow-bunny furs to a trench that converted into a tote.

Dsquared: Never the types to keep you guessing about a theme, Dan and Dean Caten spelled it all out with their beloved staging. For fall, they set a wintry London street scene, populated by brooding hunks, who hung off improbable fire escapes, and, of course, Dsquared's signature seductresses. Here, they were done up in traditional British trappings, with flashes of red tartan here and there and loads of slick tailoring. The skintight pencil skirts and cropped suit jackets, some hardened up with zippers and leather corset belts, might have been far more femme fatale than Savile Row dares to go, but the cuts were as sharply executed as any master tailor's. And while much of it suited a naughty secretary off to her shift in a stereotypical male fantasy rather than the average working woman's dress code, there was plenty of real-world appeal, particularly in a superchic short black trench and classic gray overcoat. As for nighttime, the Catens played it like a burlesque tease with sexpot lingerie layered under luxe furs and maxi trenches.

Emilio Pucci: Kiss last season's Seventies Navajo nymph goodbye. For fall, Matthew Williamson looked to the company's skiwear roots. (House founder Emilio was part of the 1934 Italian Olympic ski team.) So, with an inaugural arctic-blast sound effect, the snow-bunny affair was off — vibrant belted puffers, shiny parkas and fur galore, as in fur coats, fur hoods and fur trims. Even the accessories went polar, with editorial-friendly clutches, necklaces and belt buckles crafted from clusters of resin icicles, but whether these will translate on the retail floor is another matter. Everything, naturally, was served up in blindingly high-energy prints, save for a muted Alpine panorama pattern. But thrown together, it made for a rather busy and eclectic collection. Williamson designs without restraint and, hopefully, his customer is also fearless enough to step out in these kaleidoscopic wares.

MaxMara: After last season's disappointing show, an unfortunate take on the Japanese designer ethos, there was no place for MaxMara to go but up. So this go-round, the design team fared better by channeling the company's tried-and-true roots with sound, practical clothes, especially in the tailoring department. There were great jackets and coats, which worked a chic, mannish vibe. Case in point: the swingy double-breasted coat with a flyaway back. But the collection wasn't without its thematic tricks. Tulip-shaped skirts, for instance, came knotted, draped under and wrapped, while a handful of outerwear pieces were covered in black tinsel-like fringe. And then there was that shoulder emphasis throughout. The padded numbers were fine, and one might even get away with the overly tucked cap sleeves, but shoulder rolls that mined a vaguely "Star Wars" feel? It's a look only a latter-day Princess Leia could love.

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