Byline: Alessandra Ilari

MILAN — Italian designers have it all figured out for fall. They know that some women won’t look at anything that isn’t minimalist, while others just can’t tame their flirtatious sides. So to keep them all happy, the stilisti are working on both fronts. The common denominator of both: touches of real fur.
And designers are getting into fall’s romantic mood by trading in the filmy, flower-printed silks of spring for dainty knee-length black lace skirts and softly ruffled silk blouses or long, tailored jackets over skinny pants.
Giorgio Armani, for one, is flirting with femininity. “There will be a precise style that wants to give women a beguiling, intriguing and charmante image again,” says the designer of his upcoming Emporio Armani collection. A sneak preview of his signature collection also reveals tent-shaped, bias-cut blouses which fall in soft ruffles.
Gianfranco Ferre is in a poetic mood, too. “Each season, I feel a stronger desire for lightness and soft, draped silhouettes,” he says. “This time, I’m focusing on lots of quilted coats and jacket made with fabrics that have a sheen.”
Meanwhile, at Gianni Versace’s Via Gesu atelier, spring cleaning is going on. To begin with, Versace decrees the end of over-the-top fashion. “People today want to appear less and be themselves more. I’m looking back to see what worked best in the past 20 years and getting ready for the next 20 years,” he says. “Priorities are clean silhouettes, great quality, fewer shows and a new way of courting clients through a faultless customer service and impeccable deliveries.”
“The fundamental concepts of the new collections are romantic and masculine looks,” notes Anna Molinari, whose own looks this season range from candy pink velvet Savile Row-inspired pantsuits to genteel organdy and lace dresses and poodle skirts. “The pouf silhouettes are perfect for an eccentric version of Cinderella.”
Real fur made a comeback on the runways a couple of season ago, but now it has returned unabashedly. Italian designers are using the real thing to trim bold hoods on coats, fitted jackets and pretty cardigans. Besides the ubiquitous mink, they have revived a whole new zoo of furs, including fox, beaver, fisher, ostrich and skunk.
In edgier territory, Gianni Versace and Anna Molinari are tinting their furs in shades of rose, purple, light blue and lavender and showing them with nubby knit or shetland wool jackets. “Colored fur could be mistaken for fake fur, and it adds a more personal touch to the clothes,” Molinari says.
But many designers still prefer the fake — Krizia’s Mariuccia Mandelli, for one. “Out of principle, I refuse to use real fur. I chose the fake fur for my collection from small swatches, and when I saw the finished product, it looked more real than what I had imagined,” she admits. For fall, Mandelli is shaking off anything impractical or too constricting. One of her favorite silhouettes is a fake-fur blouson jacket lined in fleece and worn with shiny copper leather jodhpurs. She also favors silk velvet and a palette of grays and browns.
At Genny, Dolce & Gabbana and Byblos, the look is longer jackets over skinny pants. Richard Tyler, who is adding the finishing touches to his first Byblos women’s collection, is thinking couture-meets-downtown-trendy. The American designer will keep his looks sharply tailored and proportions sweet and small.
Meanwhile, Laura Biagiotti and Alberta Ferretti are sticking to romantic looks. This season, Biagiotti combines plasticized lace coats with cashmere sweaters, mostly in candid white, while Ferretti will be showing dainty dresses in chiffon, luminous organdies and embroidered velvets.

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