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Though safari, tribal and ethnic flourishes ruled the Milan runways for spring, some designers continued to embrace fashion’s romantic side. But by working with high-tech fabrics, furs and denim, they took the girly notion beyond tissue-thin silks and garden prints.

At Trussardi, Beatrice Trussardi balanced fluidity with structure. On the soft side, there were accordion-pleated skirts and full dresses in frothy chiffons and satins, often embroidered or beaded. In a more tailored mood were the leather pieces that are a specialty of the house, especially a cherry red snakeskin raincoat and the mustard yellow suede duster. A string of accessories completed it all: whipstitch rigid-frame bags; beaded, fringed or tasseled canvas sacs; leather-trimmed baskets; strappy flat sandals, and woven stilettos.

In their first season, An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx, the new design duo at Allegri, also flirted with femininity. The Belgian designers, whose own line is AF Vandevorst, referenced Allegri’s outerwear heritage in a collection that bonded practicality with sensuality. A silk halter dress was cinched at the waist with a trench coat belt, a gray boatneck fleece T-shirt was paired with low-slung microfiber pants and gauzy tops in a constellation print peeked out of high-performance anoraks.

Ermanno Scervino served up a jeans fest for every hour and just about every occasion. Out they came in more varieties than Heinz offers — long or cropped, slim or baggy, torn, ring-washed, darned, patched, bejeweled, metallicized, you name it.

And for those Scervino babes who are feeling romantic, the designer offered denim with crinkly rose brocade peacoats, beaded tunic blouses, sparkly bikini tops and embroidered jackets cut close to the body.

If you thought fur was only for the long, cold winter, think again. Giuliana Teso knows how to work mink and lapin so that it becomes feather light. Perforated, shaved, tie-dyed or inlaid with chiffon and organza, Teso’s jackets and capelets tossed over feminine silk slip-dresses in pretty pastels are fit for any spring romp.

This story first appeared in the October 4, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.