Giorgio Armani: Oh, those lazy, hazy, not so crazy days of summer — Giorgio Armani loves them. He loves “the heat, the murmur of the sea, voices carried on the gentle breeze,” he wrote in his program notes. “A feeling of carefree abandon.” For the collection he showed on Tuesday, Armani sought to capture that sense of summer ease, and it made for a fresh, pretty affair.

Accent on the fresh, because this was Armani at his youngest and most relaxed, despite the sometimes overwrought styling that didn’t quite achieve the hoped-for kookiness. But no matter, it’s the clothes the count, and the Armani faithful from Milan to Hollywood will be lining up for these. A navy-and-white checkerboard runway set the tone for the motif that Armani would manipulate throughout, suiting it to his imaginary muse, a woman “like a sailor’s girl.” To wit, the overt embrace of nautical references looked appropriately jaunty yet feminine, even girly at times, as Armani navigated the message to varying effect — sporty, flirtatious, a bit naughty, but always with an attitude of offhand, casual ease.

Stripes came out by the mile, often in big, bold cabana scale dolled up in silks — a puckered twin set, languid pajama pants, a charming flyaway silk top that may not really fly over those runway short-shorts, but will look great over pants. Throughout, Armani worked in new takes on many of his signatures, obscuring a suit or two beneath an odd bit of fishnet tossed over the shoulder. From time to time, he went a little bit overboard with those overt signs of summer — crustacean handbags, starfish earrings and a sequined lobster crawling up a dress. Thankfully, he did nothing to hide all of those terrific small, boxy jackets that came out every which way — in swirling ribbon, bugle beads, sequins, appliquéd satin.

However, he ignored one of his signatures completely. Despite his star now blazing on the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style, he’s no slave to the red carpet and showed not a single big-event dress. Instead, in keeping with his carefree mind-set, he opted for short little stunners — a sexy red halter with a nautical strap and a bounty of fluffy stripes and polkadots sure to make any sailor happy on leave.

D&G: From construction worker to cop, the Village People proved that wearing a uniform doesn’t have to be a drag. So, in the name of equal-opportunity employment, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana lent every look in their spring D&G collection a pinup-perfect personality all its own, working the role-playing angle with a flurry of fanciful frills. And as the song goes, it’s fun to stay at D&G’s YWCA — where the C stands for cool.

This cop wore her steel-blue shirt — emblazoned with Polizia across its back — with a pair of lacy tap pants, while the motocross chick zoomed past in a checkerboard patterned top and matching capri pants. The Ski Bunny bounded by in a snug Fair Isle sweater and HotPants. The Geisha flaunted her charms in an acid-bright mini kimono. The Sailor Girl swam past in an anchor sweater. For the Americana type, out came a lace-trimmed gingham baby-doll dress served up hot for the sexiest IHOP waitress on Route 66 and a purty pink cowgirl shirt paired with denim Daisy Dukes.

But their sexy stable was not yet emptied, not by a long shot. A Spanish Señorita in a beaded bolero led to a Pretty Jock in a cropped soccer jersey and tiny shorts who, while she may not be ready to bend it like Beckham, certainly looked dressed to score. For Dolce & Gabbana’s young fans, that’s the point, after all. And this season, the designers scored, too.



Bottega Veneta: Tomas Maier has a crystal-clear vision and it’s very direct — just refresh last season’s basics with a new knockout piece, be it a bag, a pair of shoes, or a piece of clothing. And Maier offered plenty of options that fit the bill.

Sandy beaches and translucent waters inspired the designer on many fronts, such as the palette of beige, pale blue, pistachio green, sunset yellow and coral pink, or the play of subtle textures in matte deerskin and shiny crocodile. “Imagine spilling sand over a bag or the sparkling reflection of lapping water at the beachfront,” said Maier, creative director of the luxury goods house.Standout items included cotton capri pants sprinkled with white sequins and a net-lined, sheared mink jacket worn over a silk crocheted bikini and printed skirts in a watermark design. On the accessories front, there were gorgeous high-heeled sandals trimmed with vintage Murano beads, a handbag with leather strips creating a ripple-effect and the staple woven styles revved up with chains. And, if you’re looking for something truly special, there’s the pumpkin-shaped shoulder bag with hand-sewn gold filigree coins and crocodile trim that requires a week of intense craftsmanship.



Stephen Fairchild:Fairchild took his audience on a trip through the Southwest this season. He believes that endless expanses, dusty plains and dry heat are the perfect setting for his collection of relaxed clothes with a free-spirited attitude. That translated into an abundance of distressed hemp, linen and cotton pants, bermuda shorts and swingy skirts worn with sheer sequined blouses, leather jackets trimmed with python and striped vests. He paired simple T-shirts with floral prairie skirts, while sheer blouses peeked out of blazers and shorts. Everything was complemented with accessories, Fairchild’s latest undertaking, including hand-painted Western belts and embroidered bags crafted by New Mexican artists. But why did the designer opt for dancers instead of professional models?



Just Cavalli: Britney Spears’ personal anthem, “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” would make the perfect soundtrack to Just Cavalli’s spring collection. The overt sexuality that Roberto Cavalli so masterfully exploits in his signature line is toned down a notch, and sweetened up for his playful pirate girls. Think more sex kitten than lioness. These mates like to romp around on deck in slouchy short-shorts layered in utility pockets, flowy petal pink silk tanks, fitted suede shrugs and cropped stretch jeans dotted in rhinestones. The designer, if nothing else, is a showman, and he didn’t disappoint. For the show, he constructed a giant waterfall, and suspended acrobats swung through the downpour while girls strutted in their super-high wedges. Of course, this is Cavalli, and sweetness is more a state of mind than an actual aesthetic. For those Cavalli girls-in-training, he offers up plenty of flirty, at times trashy, minidresses both in his signature silk prints and in a sultry crochet knit. Walking the plank never looked so frisky.

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