Byline: Alessandra Ilari

MILAN — Italian designers aren’t planning a fashion revolution this season.
Instead, they’re adding a breezy touch to ideas that surfaced a season ago, especially the boy-meets-girl look. As Giorgio Armani puts it, “One of the important keys to the new collection is the deliberate contrast of masculine forms with glittering, feminine fabrics.
“For Emporio Armani, there is a focus on flattering, feminine jackets to be worn with soft, short dresses or skirts, or over new pants with a dropped-waist effect that transforms their silhouette. As an alternative to suits, there is an emphasis on soft skirts or pants worn with ironically sexy tops.”
Flirty and ethereal pieces are mixed with sharply tailored looks. To accommodate women’s desire to dress up again, designers are also cutting their short and sexy numbers or long and mysterious ones in rich fabrics such as tulle, silk georgette, chiffon, taffeta and satin. They’re often embroidered, beaded and sequined even for daytime.
“My new collection is a mixture of sporty, masculine pieces with feminine and romantic ones,” says Gianfranco Ferre. “It’s an intelligent equilibrium that enhances a clean and candid silhouette.” Richard Tyler, the designer for Byblos, is also pushing the gender-bender look with such combinations as a dainty lace top peeking out of a gray wool blazer or a little spencer jacket, nipped at the waist, paired with a short pleated skirt, both in lightweight gray wool. “In many ways, it’s a very schoolgirl silhouette that is more feminine than that of the winter collection,” he says.
At Anna Molinari’s sumptuous palazzo in Capri, the designer and her daughter, Rossella Tarabini, are currently putting the finishing touches on a collection inspired by Millicent Rogers, an American fashion icon of the Forties and Fifties. “She was very wealthy and had lots of personal style. She wore ethnic, Navajo jewelry over opulent couture gowns,” says Tarabini. To recreate her look, Molinari will show long, skinny dresses in shiny rayon satin and raw silk, laden with ethnic jewelry. The designer is also offering her take on the masculine-feminine look — exaggeratedly full pants worn with tiny, fitted couture-style jackets.
Meanwhile, another mother-daughter team, Angela and Rosita Missoni, are pulling together their signature knitwear and tailored looks.
“The knits will have many patchwork designs with modern and graphic designs, while rayon is our favorite fabric for constructed pieces. Colors revolve around intense shades such as plum, wine red, sienna brown, gold and peach,” says Rosita.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, for their part, are trying to infuse luxury with a touch of practicality. They’re using silk georgette, satin, taffeta, chiffon and tulle spiked with spandex. “This way the past, with its old-time sartorial techniques is mixed with the present and its innovative fabrics. Both are in an image of a woman from the South of Italy,” Dolce says.
Rebecca Moses, design consultant for Genny, described her new collection as having “sexy urban style.” “We’re focusing on a great piece, a dress or a suit, that can be worn from day into night,” she says. “What’s important is great details, such as a rhinestone-studded clasp or black glass beading. It’s a little in the mood of what Genny did in the Eighties, but obviously with a Nineties spirit, because that’s where we are.”

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