By  on February 20, 2008

The Milan collections offered a little bit of everything: superbright colors, furry embellishments and even ironic military touches.

Salvatore Ferragamo: The spotlight is certainly on Salvatore Ferragamo. This year marks the company's 80th anniversary, one the family is celebrating with a big blowout bash next month in Shanghai. And the fall runway featured the debut of creative director Cristina Ortiz, who sent out a new sexpot vision for the storied house. Think glamour and Greta Garbo, whom the designer cited as her muse pre-show. Ortiz started out with a series of all-white getups that mined everything from Garbo's mannish wide-trouser suit look to the dramatic fur collars she sported in her early films. Embellishments, meanwhile, came primarily through curious metal clasps in lieu of seams à la Versace pins. She used them and chain mail trim on everything from sexy jersey shifts to belted short coats and evening numbers, almost to the point of distraction. Ortiz's attempt at upping the glamour quotient — in keeping with Mr. Ferragamo's close Hollywood ties, she said — was a bit overzealous, especially for evening. The designer simply skewed too discotheque flashy, and her drapy, flesh-baring gowns seemed better suited to New York City's Club Row than to Garbo in "Grand Hotel."

Moschino: Rossella Jardini loves a cheeky stage setup. This time, a giant delivery truck was planted at the runway entrance with models spilling out from the back all done up in the "hot merchandise." The collection was pure Moschino wit and whimsy, filtered through a ladylike lens. Jardini opened with a tailoring-meets-ruffled-frou counterpoint, as in a trim blue coat with tiered frill inserts, which later gave way to some bow-blouse numbers and an ombré mohair shift. Sixties London was the overarching mood here, kicked up by a serious Sgt. Pepper military factor. Case in point: Freja Beha strutting out in a military jacket, complete with epaulets and brass buttons. Of course, Jardini's latter-day Beatle came with the house-appropriate tongue-in-cheek kitsch. Her military, ahem, decorations included sequined anchor patches and cartoon seahorses dangling from tassels. As for those epaulets, they were shaped like caterpillars, with tiny feet in lieu of fringe.

Etro: With Veronica Etro at the helm, the eclectic and offbeat have become as synonymous with Etro as the house's signature paisley prints. What her lineup lacks in linear thought — nonsensical show notes don't help — it often makes up for in quirky charm and even some attractive clothes. That was the case for fall, as Etro mixed printed bohemian goddess gowns with sharply tailored styles, some that utilized the house's rich prints, and often worked a trim blazer or vest on top and a flounced miniskirt on the bottom. But from there, things got hairy, not to mention fuzzy and spiked. Some of the exotic monkey- and goat-fur vests had a rocker appeal, but the stiff, spiky petal embellishments at the neck and down the arms of otherwise pretty dresses seemed strange just for the sake of being strange. And it must take a truly open mind to appreciate those dreadlock stoles and vests.Blumarine: If Anna Molinari's fall collection is any indication, Blumarine's unapologetically girly girl is desperate for attention. After all, anyone wearing head-to-toe, fur-trimmed leopard patterns is shouting, "Look at me." Or perhaps, "Come hither," which was the message conveyed by heat-seeking silk jersey gowns, complete with bejeweled cutouts, and skimpy negligee slipdresses. Those are nothing new for Molinari, but the latter felt more boudoir bunny than ever thanks to long fuzzy angora cardigans, which, in bubble gum pink, canary yellow and baby blue, read like a knitwear ode to marabou robes. There were a few lady looks — trenches and pared-down coat-and-dress styles — among the sweet-tart lineup. And a denim-and-gauzy blouse series was a welcome reprieve from all the sex and sugar.

Sportmax: After a couple of experimental seasons, Sportmax's design team has returned to its roots — delivering great outerwear and placing the focus on coats. Slim or ample, mini or maxi, frisky or somber, out they came, worked in endless fabrications and details that went from pleated insets to graphic reversed collars to poetic lace flourishes of the Victorian kind. Done up in a palette of gray and black with flashes of peach-and-ivory dégrade and saffron yellow, the coats were tossed over slim pants, bouncy skirts and strong knitwear.


La Perla: Out of the boudoir came Alessandro Dell'Acqua's seductresses, in reams of swishy black chiffon, leopard-print separates and high-glamour dresses with provocative lace cutouts for a beguiling and wearable collection.
Albino: Quality craftsmanship, feminine touches and artsy flourishes are part of Albino D'Amato's m.o., and the designer rarely strays far from that comfort zone, as seen in his striking red wool ruffle-front dress, fitted vests with fold-over collars and taffeta coats with ribbon closures.

Pollini by Rifat Ozbek: A kimono sleeve here, an obi belt there — Rifat Ozbek once again filled his Pollini collection with ethnic inspirations, and while some of the fitted coats and bubble skirts looked fresh, the Seventies-style printed dresses were a tad déjà vu.


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