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Whimsy and Polish – Burberry Prorsum, Fendi, Dsquared

There's nothing like blending elegance with wit, and some designers did just that this season, in looks such as Empire-waisted dresses belted in ribbon, bold cape coats and puff-sleeved blouses worn with high-waisted skirts.

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There’s nothing like blending elegance with wit, and some designers did just that this season, in looks such as Empire-waisted dresses belted in ribbon, bold cape coats and puff-sleeved blouses worn with high-waisted skirts.

Burberry Prorsum: Christopher Bailey, bright young light of Milan and Burberry, always has had a thing for London’s bright young things, those “It” girls of the ultracool variety. This season, however, he’s left his best girl home on Saturday night.

Princess Margaret and an imaginary host of Sixties-era English debutantes inspired Bailey’s charming new mood, one that reined in last season’s bohemian ways with a tidier attitude and a lot less fabric. But in the transition, his girl didn’t lose a thing, since her new haute-bourgeois look was so square it was hip.

Opening with a navy cape coat shining with giant brass buttons, Bailey went on to celebrate the good girl with proper sweaters over stiff taffeta skirts and high-waisted dresses with ribbon belts. Satin coats swung wide and demure, while taffeta trenches came tied up in bows.

He moved in a pared-down and polished new direction. And if the show was a bit repetitive, well, some things bear repeating.

Fendi: There’s nothing like a shot of pure Parisian whimsy to get the blood pumping. With a pert bow here and a discreet ruffle there, Karl Lagerfeld delivered a potent dose of chic at his Fendi show on Thursday, taking the house in a pretty new direction. “We cleaned up a lot, non?” Lagerfeld said backstage after the show. “I have the feeling I started all over. It’s a new beginning, another story, another spirit.”

Lagerfeld’s Fendi woman has been reborn as a serious lash-batting Lolita. Joie is her reason de vivre — that and some of the most joyful clothes around. A tiered chiffon dress was bordered with a strip of cotton-candy-colored fur. Others came decked out with mini frills, some in sweet Swiss dot, or in painterly abstract prints. Puff-sleeved blouses were paired with high-waisted skirts.

The color pallette was fearless: red and cobalt blue to petal pink.

Meanwhile, Lagerfeld indulged Fendi’s traditional tech-y fascination with punched lace patent and a few innovative furs. And it all looked great. Lagerfeld’s elegant Ms. Fendi may still be a babe in the woods, but she knows how to make a terrific first impression.

This story first appeared in the September 30, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Dsquared: Dean and Dan Caten sure know how to stage a fashion show. In fact, it’s their campy antics and over-the-top sets and themes that have made them mini celebrities in Milan (just try pushing through that crush of fans waving standing tickets at the door). This time around, the boys went on a Western romp, even opening the show with a gun-slinging Carmen Kass taking out a cowboy, but it was the nervous horses on stage that spooked many a fashion editor. All tricks aside, the collection felt all too familiar — the Wild West is a theme these boys touch upon in almost every collection. Sure, their low-slung jeans and rocker-ready leathers have gained cult status, but the twins keep promising us more real fashion, and we’re not talking about all those cowgirl calico dresses inset with Western scrollwork. We know they are more than capable of it, as evidenced in a sexy black halter dress with tux-like detail, or a cute full-skirted and ruffled frock in baby blue.

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