Tony or tough? Why should a designer have to choose? Some, like Marni's Consuelo Castiglioni, prefer a consistent arty classiness, while others, such as Roberto Cavalli and Gucci's Frida Giannini, alternate between the steamy and the elegant.

Gucci: To open her Gucci show on Wednesday evening, Frida Giannini screened the TV spot for the house's new Gucci by Gucci fragrance, directed by David Lynch, along with behind-the-scenes footage. Sexy and lush, yes. Provocative, too, but in a mainstream-glamour way rather than out-there Lynch. After the show, Giannini explained her initial excitement and apprehension at the prospect of working with the director. "I wanted him for his visionary ideas, his genius," she said. "At the same time, I didn't want a doll with no head or blood — one of his strange visions."

Giannini is not a doll-with-no-head designer, nor is Gucci a doll-with-no-head house. It's for real women who believe that baby dolls should be full-bodied and fashion fully understandable. That is what she delivered on Wednesday evening in a collection that continued the Fifties motif she started for resort, this time inspired by that era's subjects in "Scavullo: Francesco Scavullo Photographs 1948-1984." Giannini loves the inherent diversity, its tough-to-tony range, and sees her Gucci girl as something of a pretender to the former, a bit dangerous and dark, "sensual and blonde" underneath.

Either way, she knows how to work demonstrative black-and-white graphics with shots of bright pink and yellow. But fluff really isn't her bag, so forget those Dear Dick Clark skirts; what worked for day were witty sack dresses and their boyish alter ego: terrific reimagined motorcycle jackets, shirts and pants, the latter slouchy on top but narrowed through the leg, and all with a dose of approachable edge. And these days, approachable edge is what Gucci's all about.

Marni: Consuelo Castiglioni's ability to tread the line between arty and approachable has made the past few seasons a major Marni moment. Her geometric shapes and crafty accessories present a quirky-but-unfussy and all-age-appropriate élan. And with the exception of too-silly confetti-pile cone hats, this collection was another strong version of that statement. She revisited cybersport territory with techy nylons, latex and gabardine, this time with shots of Play-Doh brights like acid green and DayGlo pink that also spiffed up retro-future sunglasses. Colorblocking, still fresh on clothes as well as the heel of superchunky platform wedges, illustrated the linear motif referenced in show notes. Even the season's emergent fringe trend got the precision treatment on a spunky handbag covered with stiff latex ribbons. Still, it wasn't all angles. On the softer side, inky abstract prints had a beautiful reflecting pool effect on loose dresses, some gathered in pleats at the waist. Dirndl skirts that fell to the floor or midcalf were the newest shape and offered the same constructed, covered-up appeal as Castiglioni's square-ish jackets, tunics and dresses. True, it was all well within her comfort zone, but it's unlikely any of the legions who buy her clothes and borrow her ideas will complain.Roberto Cavalli: Roberto Cavalli has shown us he can certainly sizzle — his track record for steamy sexpots speaks for itself. This season, however, Cavalli proves he has a deft hand at gentility, too. Consider his first girl out: Natasha Poly, in a lovely white drop-waist lace gown, channeling a latter-day Gatsby girl. It was a serene, no-fuss, no-frills moment, one that continued on even as the designer heeded the Seventies siren call of the season midway into the show, with bell-bottom trousers, peasanty blouses and billowing frocks. Even his floral prints — and there were plenty — were of the delicate garden party sort. But to all this he added a texture motif. For day, it meant allover cowboy fringe on everything from trenches and coats to one seriously scary pair of trousers. For his belles de nuit, however, it appeared in a far more alluring manner — as fluttery petaled dresses. Of course, for those missing the Cavalli va-va-voom, there were the closing gala gowns, this time rendered with no-less-romantic oversize floral watercolor graphics.

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