PUNKS, PEASANTS AND POWER CHIC
FROM THE PURR OF SEX KITTENS AT BLUMARINE TO THE GROWL OF PUNK PRINCESSES AT D&G, TOUGH AND TENDER LOOKS SHARED THE LIMELIGHT ON THE MILAN RUNWAYS.
D&G: Leave it to these boys — Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana — to spin the craziness of Carnaby Street’s punk era and Madonna’s early days into a sexy, fun frolic. Excess was key here, with pearl chokers, studded shoes and bags, safety pins, dangling crosses and Sid Vicious-chains adorning everything from cropped Dangerous Liaisons lace bustier tops to spray-painted, slashed T-shirts, to booty-hugging capris and lace leggings. Mary Quant, another Carnaby Street alum, also came to mind with acid-colored and polkadotted tights peeking out from short, sleek patent leather coats. The message was clear: Tough girls rule here — in grommet-covered leathers, studded dog collars, multicolored chainmail and even the occasional pinstripe suit that screamed, “Mistress, I will obey.” It’s a suit Madonna — the toughest girl of all — should find quite appealing.
Byblos: Classic sportswear, with a dose of urban attitude — that’s the niche John Bartlett is carving for himself at Byblos. And, after a rocky start, it’s working. In the collection he showed on Monday, Bartlett revealed his savvy approach to power chic in clothes that were clean, but seldom plain.
While basics such as white shirts, tanks and men’s wear trousers formed the core of the collection, Bartlett added a bit of styling bravado to the mix, with jackets wrapped at the waist and pants cropped in the Seventies manner that’s shaping up as an important look for spring. And he gave a tougher slant to some of those still-ubiquitous artsy asymmetric hems, cutting them in crisp, non-ethereal fabrics.
When Bartlett went gentler, it wasn’t with flou, but with structure of a satin sort. Although the motif’s stiffness made for some awkward moments, many of the pastel skirts with contrasting insets had a refreshing, almost sporty, charm.
Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti: Think country charmers. Alberta Ferretti did, and for spring, she sent out a gaggle of young girls in some of the cutest peasant clothes around. Matronly milkmaids these girls weren’t — Ferretti gave them that special Italian sexiness that’s been vamping on the runways here. Gingham check peasant dresses were left unbuttoned and fell off the shoulder, bohemian patchwork vests and zippered fishing vests revealed bare midriffs, and pants, in suede or cotton, were cropped short and tight. Peek-a-boo crochet was also important, showing up in everything from short shifts to teeny-weeny bikinis.
Unfortunately, the gold sequin and metallic leather finale — in these same peasant silhouettes — looked out of sync, especially for these disco-crazy milkmaids.
Antonio Berardi: Antonio Berardi has recently become a partner with his former backers, the Solleciti family, to form Antonio Berardi SpA, which now produces the designer’s collection under license. And in the wake of this deal, Berardi presented a sizzling collection of sexy sportswear, sophisticated pantsuits and slinky jersey dresses. The designer said he was inspired by eurythmics, a onetime Olympic sport that combined dance and exercise, and added, “I wanted to incorporate the minor details of sport into the collection.” So even before the first models hit the runway, he had gymnasts performing on a vaulting horse and parallel bars.
But don’t think for an instant that Berardi is taking the Nike trail. This collection may have had its sportif touches — mostly in the form of accessories like leather knee and elbow pads, helmets and elongated stirrups — but the Berardi woman would never put one stilettoed foot in a locker room.
He opened up with a fabulous lacy white halter dress dripping with beads and jewels, then moved on to strong, chic pantsuits, and lots of skin-baring tops over cropped pants or dangerously short minis. And while he started the show with a lineup of whites, he also played with electrifying colors ranging from acid yellow and orange to hot pinks.
There was a lighter side to this collection, which is perhaps the most commercial one this designer has done — by Berardi standards, that is. “I wanted the collection to be more uplifting and easier than last season by incorporating movement and lightness into the designs,” he said. Accordingly, he closed the show with vibrant-colored silk Grecian numbers and a pink shredded tulle gown that was just beautiful.
Blumarine: In a season in which sex is being paraded up and down the runways, Anna Molinari couldn’t be happier. In her world, the sex kitten always lives — and it’s a mantra she’s chanted time and time again. For spring, skimpy (to say the least) satin bikinis, emblazoned with floral beading and sequins, sizzled as an opener. And why not, especially when modeled on fashion’s most bodacious body — Gisele Bundchen? Molinari also favored the East this season, throwing embroidered Chinese dressing gowns over swimsuits, piling dragon-embroidered leathers over black satins and trimming pants and skirts in kimono silks. But the familiarity stops there — skirts were slit thigh-high, HotPants bared the butt-cheeks and T-shirts revealed plenty of decollete. This season, Molinari’s sex kittens are purring louder than ever.
GFF: Weed through Gianfranco Ferre’s garden of oversized flower appliques, hoop skirts and crinolines, and you’ll eventually come across clothes that make sense. Basic clothing is the driving force behind GFF’s sales, and there’s a lot to choose from this season: fluid cotton knit pantsuits, lean trousers and jackets in linen or washed silk, and pleated skirts paired with soft knits. And by the way, Ferre wants you to know that the hoop skirt has made progress since the days of Miss Scarlett: At the end of the show, models planted themselves on little benches to show that nowadays you can actually sit down in one.