MILAN — Italian designers are dreaming of romantic getaways to Africa and India, and retailers are happy to go along for the ride. Calling it a solid Milan season, buyers said they’re upbeat for spring, and they’re embracing such looks as shrunken jackets, prairie skirts and wedge-heeled shoes. Retailers noted that customers are mixing and matching more than ever, and the season offers plenty of special pieces with arts-and-crafts touches to do just that.

Joan Kaner, senior vice president, fashion director, Neiman Marcus: “I think it’s an interesting season in terms of individual pieces like the peasant skirt. We’re seeing a lot more volume from the designers. We think the ethnic look is an easy take for dressing; you can wear a piece of it or you can wear it head to toe. Miuccia Prada is very influential. She’ll lead the way for the next season, for the fall. Missoni, Blumarine, Prada, Etro, they were all great. The lady is still interested in pretty. I think next season she’ll be ready for something different.”

Sue Patneaude, executive vice president of designer apparel, Nordstrom: “We thought it was a lot of fun. We called it Milan’s Wild Kingdom. We liked the exotic destinations, including Roberto Cavalli’s Garden of Eden and the tropical and natural themes in general. We really liked Donatella’s sea colors and fabulous feminine dresses. We also liked the multicultural themes, like Cavalli’s tribal mask-inspired beaded dresses and the Hawaiian influence at Cheap & Chic. We loved Missoni and the evolved Pucci collection. Gianfranco Ferré did a great job with the animal theme.”

Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction, Bloomingdale’s: “It’s a strong season for us in Milan. There is no hard-edged tailoring. The news is a softer silhouette with an emphasis on the skirt. Armani’s new color palette is exciting for our customers. He surprised us with flashes of bright color. Dolce & Gabbana found new ways to embellish, such as jewels with snakeskin and lace combined with denim. Miuccia Prada continues to amaze us with her narrow body-skimming silhouette in shorter lengths with flat shoes. It’s the next direction to come.”

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