TALES OF MILANO
ANNA MOLINARI PASSED THE TORCH — TO HER DAUGHTER, THAT IS — GENNY CONTINUED THE EIGHTIES REVIVAL, AND LAUREL HAD A YOUNGER LOOK AS THE MILAN COLLECTIONS ROLLED ALONG.

ANNA MOLINARI: Make way for the new generation! Clad in a fur-trimmed, floral satin cardigan, long skirt and leopard-skin boots, it was Rossella Tarabini, Anna Molinari’s 29-year-old daughter, who took the bow at the end of the Molinari show. She was led onstage by her petite mom, who then watched as Rossella received her accolades. “I’ve worked with my mother for a while now, but this is the first time I took total control,” said Tarabini, minutes before her show. “I’m not as exuberant as she is, so my fashion approach is more rigorous.”
Those familiar Molinari sex kittens done up in romantic prints, girly bows, dazzling rhinestones and lots of frou-frou have been put on the back burner. Tarabini has another image in mind, and in the program notes, she saluted “precious women…icons of great strength and rare beauty,” including Uma Thurman, Marianne Faithfull, Maria Callas, Millicent Rogers and Georgia O’Keeffe.
This inspiration showed up on the runway in the form of floral-print prairie dresses with Navajo belts and leopard-patterned boots, navy pantsuits with tiny metal beads tracing a high waistline, lots of hip-slung pants revealing a trace of black underwear, and a parade of sheer black dresses. Tarabini stumbled a bit when it came to evening, but she’s off to a good start in her first solo effort.
GENNY: Things have been moving at a fast pace since Enzo Zanderigo took the reins of Genny just a few months ago. The new ceo has already snared a 2,500-square-foot Madison Avenue site where he plans to open Genny’s first American boutique next year. Stores in Los Angeles and Las Vegas are also in the works.
Zanderigo hopes to expand Genny’s worldwide network of 45 freestanding boutiques to around 100 in the next three years. Part of his strategy is to limit distribution of the Genny line. With some 400 doors around the world, Zanderigo wants to weed out the poor performers, while going after such retailers as Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. According to the executive, U.S. sales are about $6 million, but he hopes to boost them to more than $10 million in his three-year plan.
Such ambitious plans must have inspired the Genny collection presented this season, which has “commercial” written all over it. Last season’s Eighties revival is still alive and well here. Short, broad-shouldered suits trimmed in python, micro-mini leathers in acid brights and towering stiletto sandals literally shout power dressing. And there were plenty of the usual Genny staples — long evening columns slit sky-high up the side, delicate knits and trim pantsuits.
LAUREL: This bridge division of Escada has been making a concerted effort over the last few seasons to spruce up its fashion image. And thanks to the efforts of head stylist Stefano Guerriero and Elisabeth Schwaiger, head of the Laurel design team, this spring collection is looking younger and hipper than ever. The team likes simplicity, but minimalism, they believe, is too androgynous and boring. So they juice up their looks with just the right amount of trendy edge, enough to make them current without losing their commercial viability.
Laurel has captured the mood of the season: spare suits with the new eased-up jacket shapes, cropped pants paired with bright leather jackets, the ubiquitous beaded top over lean skirts, plus draped tops and dresses in jersey, the fabric that’s all over Milan. Escada is focusing more attention on Laurel, which lost ground in terms of fashion and volume in the last three years, and this collection should help get them moving again. ICEBERG: This company, which has had a string of consulting designers, including, most recently, Marc Jacobs, is said to be currently negotiating a contract with Victor Alfaro. Though Gilmar will not confirm this, Alfaro did appear at the Iceberg show on Wednesday. What he and the rest of the audience saw was a collection that clearly needed a strong designer viewpoint. It rambled in too many directions: shantung blousons in acid colors, suedes with cutout florals, romantic beaded slipdresses, sheer tops with shadow stripes, as well as an endless parade of innocuous evening looks.

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