Max Mara and Sportmax: Remember Annie Hall? Annie worked a slouchy men’s wear look to perfection, almost always anchored by a vest. Well, if the team at Max Mara has its way, the vest may rise again. Its spring collection revolved almost exclusively around vests that came paired with everything — absolutely everything —from long, slim skirts to shorts rolled at the leg to cropped pants to pretty lacy dresses.

But Max Mara’s latter-day Annie isn’t content only with classic mannish versions borrowed from her boyfriend or brother — if either were to wear vests anymore, that is. She’s looking for variety, which this collection delivered in droves. To mention the tiny vests cropped to bikini-top proportions, the slouchy ones, those with cargo pockets or cut in seersucker, pinstripes or lace is to describe only a fraction of the lot. But vests aside, there were some lovely pieces which complemented the array — a purple snake trenchcoat, lacy tops, silk skirts and a series of floaty chiffons.

At Sportmax, the message was delivered with equal force, if not clarity, because the Sportmax girl, it seems, is given to wild swings of mood. When she’s not twittering about in her sweet floral chiffon, she’s vamping it up in a sporty cropped mesh jacket and microscopic skirt. All the disparate mixing made for a fairly rough ride, especially for the poor models who bravely, but tentatively, stepped onto a glass-slick runway atop dangerously high heels while sporting Eighties-style mall-rat hair and translucent tape that pulled at their temples like a low-budget facelift. But within the collection’s mix were plenty of items that survived the brutal extras, including a tan suede trenchcoat, suede jackets and suede skirts that offered a kernel of reality in the midst of the storm.



La Perla: Designing clothes for a lingerie company can be risky, with the danger of turning out a collection of trashy boudoir looks. And that’s what many people would expect from sex-in-your-face master Alessandro Dell’Acqua, now in his second season as La Perla’s creative director. Instead, the designer tempered the sizzle — he’ll probably boost the quotient in his signature collection later this week — and opted for pretty pieces designed to reveal just hints of exquisite lingerie, the houses’ specialty.The first group of black pieces — open-back chiffon blouses, cut-out dresses and barely there halter tops — cleverly showed off a flash of color with emerald green demi-bras. A charming lavender silk bra peeked out of a gossamer tank top, and was worn over a pleated miniskirt flecked with tiny pink ribbons. Dell’Acqua also used a stylized floral print for a silk bra that matched the ruffles of a dress. All in all, it was a delightful game of hide and seek.



Trussardi: Trussardi staged its show at Milan’s Bocconi University to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the house’s greyhound logo and the firm’s participation in a school program to introduce students to fashion. Beatrice Trussardi, who is now at the helm of the family-owned company, added a touch of the feminine this season, a trend that’s running through the collections here. She paired dainty gauze tops embroidered with suede strips with slim suede jeans and tubular calf belts. Trussardi also is experimenting with new, rather exotic, materials, showing short pleated skirts with sea snake inserts and trenches made of gallux, which is the skin of (are you ready for this?) chicken feet. It all made for a young, breezy collection, and the accessories, which Trussardi is focusing on now, look like sure hits: cylinder-shaped suede bags with tubular shoulder straps in geranium pink or croc bags with cameo closures etched with that greyhound logo.

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