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.Alessandro Dell'Acqua: Aesthetically speaking, Alessandro Dell'Acqua has charted a new course. Once his heart and soul were in the sexy boudoir looks that put him on the fashion map, but slowly the steam has given way to polished refinement. And it's been a good transition. This season, Dell'Acqua focused on a luxe restraint with plush fabrics, unfussy shapes and architectural details. He mixed satin with wool, creating a matte-shiny combo that looked best in the toffee-and-orange color-blocked pieces. Dell'Acqua is also into details, especially on the backs of dresses and short jackets, adding bustles, semicircular ruffles, rows of buttons or origami folds.

Luisa Beccaria: Luisa Beccaria doesn't budge from her lyrical, romantic fashion vision. With Prince Charming in mind, Beccaria's archetypal princess floats in and out of gala festivities, swishing and swooshing in yards of sherbet-colored organdies, chiffons and satins, often embellished to a fare-thee-well with ribbons, layers, drapes, scalloped tiers and tucking. For day, Beccaria offered prim little coats bordered in macramé, nipped tweed jackets over preppy pleats and chiffon dresses, the sweetness of it all tempered with austere stand-up collars.

Giuliana Teso: For its stylish fur romp, Giuliana Teso channeled the elegance and elusive style of Silvana Mangano, the Rita Hayworth of Italy. That translated into posh, opulent outerwear in a sometimes flashy mix of furs and colors, including fox, mink, ground hog, Lipi cat and Russian sable (Teso obtained the top lot at the last U.S. auction). Sheared or fuzzy, they came lined in pink chiffon, and were combined with cashmere or velvet and sprinkled with crystals, in the form of linear coats or swingy versions. These were tossed over bow-front jersey dresses or pants-and-blouse combos, perfect for fur-loving big spenders who like a dash of silver-screen style.

Allegri: In their ongoing collaboration with Allegri, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren have shown their knack for infusing outerwear basics with a little romance and whimsy. This time, they gave a classic khaki trench a witty two-for-one treatment: once folded up and zipped into its circular piped pockets, it doubled as a tote bag. And a milky white nylon version got a touch of flou with a sculptural ruffled lapel. Elsewhere, they took puffers and parkas more rugged, outfitting them with an abundance of utility pockets. It was sporty, girly and very chic.Piazza Sempione: For fall, Nathalie Gervais riffed on a man-and-nature theme that read mainly in leafy prints in mossy greens and black-and-white on cloqué dresses. Those items and some vibrant knitwear in sorbet colors added a great shot of spirit to the house's impeccable, ultraluxe basics.

PHOTOS BY GIOVANNI GIANNONI, DAVIDE MAESTRI, MAURICIO MIRANDA AND DAVE YODER

MORE FROM THE SHOWS...

Brioni: Architectural flourishes in pleats, drapes and gathers turned up the allure on Brioni's straitlaced dresses and coats, spliced with some sharp pants in a men's pinstripe for another strong collection by the house's design team.

Les Copains: Displaying its knitwear savvy, Les Copains wove romance into a naval theme, which made for a retail-friendly outing of navy-and-white striped sweaters, comfy-looking knitted cashmere tube dresses and high-waisted roomy pants.

Iceberg: Iceberg's Paolo Gerani went excessively dramatic with aggressive amped-up proportions — gigantic braiding on a sweater dress; colossal collars on puffers — while folding in some whimsical cartoony houndstooth patterns and prints à la Roy Lichtenstein.

Trussardi: A black papery leather cocktail dress was a stylish respite in Gaia Trussardi's bizarre romp of harem-pant jumpsuits and suede-fringed circle skirts bedecked with crudely cut swatches of glazed leather.

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