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.

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