HILOSOPHY MIXED PYTS WITH GRUNGE…MOSCHINO CHEAP & CHIC HAD A SPORTY SCHOOL SPIRIT…AND TREND LES COPAINS TOLD A FAIRY TALE.

Anna Molinari: The show notes are always part of the fun at Rossella Tarabini’s Anna Molinari collections. This time, she took to name-dropping — Romanov, Eisenstein, Fragonard, Vionnet, just to name a few. On the runway, the fallen tsarina bit meant a look put together in layer upon layer of broken-in luxury. Skirts in crinkled silk, gauzy tulle or modestly embellished with lace were doubled, and simple knits were shown over or under ribbed tank tops to achieve the effect. All of the above came in once-rich colors faded to gentle tones and in fabrics washed soft to give the melange a sad romance, one that Tarabini gussied up via the sleek fur coats and glittering tulle aprons cinched on top of it all.
But her humble evening dresses made the best case for the approach. Washed satin gowns in dulled green and pale blue, cut on the bias in homage to Vionnet, delivered equal doses of haughty old Hollywood and the kind of relaxed seduction last seen in some romantically dusty boudoir. The look may not have moved them in old Odessa, but it made a case for a picture-perfect revolution here.

Blumarine: Anna Molinari is known for her beaded dresses. The stores stock ’em, the ladies take ’em away. It’s as simple as that. For fall, Molinari threw her lot in with the if-it-ain’t-broke camp, sending out a couple dozen prototypical Blumarine dresses instead of messing around with anything that could hinder the progression of beaded goods — you know, daring inspiration, exploration, a theme. This time around, the designer’s perky after-seven fare made allusions to flapper dresses and Art Deco in versions both short and long. Styling came by way of shawl-collared cardigans, but vaguely folksy passementerie on black velvet dresses and coats, was as far as Molinari ever strayed from her medium of choice.

Philosophy: The idea of combining pretty young things with hard-rock grunge seems to create a marriage of opposites: sweet feminine wiles paired with the down-and-dirty. But for fall, Alberta Ferretti did just that in her Philosophy line, infusing her classics with exactly the right amount of teen spirit. There were still plenty of her recognizable chiffon dresses around — Empire-waisted, floaty and cute — but when these were trimmed in delicate black lace and worn with oversized Black Watch parkas tossed over them, innocent girls morphed into Courtney Love. And as Love does, mix and match was the secret here, pairing striped cotton shirts with floral skirts, plaid jackets with tartan bottoms and, in one case, even the requisite Kurt-inspired plaid shirt, sleeves ripped off and all, with a long Scottish plaid skirt. Coats also took center stage here, showing up in all shapes and sizes: relaxed parkas, pony-fur trenches, easy peacoats, and the result was some pretty dynamite outerwear.

Moschino Cheap & Chic: With all the revved-up good cheer of a back-to-school pep rally, the Moschino team presented a collection full of earnest fall clothes. Rugby striped sweaters, classic corduroy pants, an oversized cardigan and tartan miniskirt conjured up the quintessential college girl — one with Ali MacGraw’s “Love Story” look on her mind. Ribbon-trimmed tweed skirts, puff-sleeved sweaters and even a pink velvet suit played up her round-eyed innocence. But the quirkier stuff — vintage-inspired car coats with big covered buttons and kooky, kitschy cocktail dresses — might look better on the art major down the hall. Still, the luckiest coed of the bunch was Cheap and Chic’s folksy chick. She got all the calicos.

Trend Les Copains: To set off fall’s fairy-tale look, designer Antonio Marras had a whole slew of saplings carted in to line the runway at Trend Les Copains. And bounding down the trail his wood nymphs came, wearing rough fur vests or appliqued sweaters, girly skirts, made full with frilled tulle petticoats, and trailing their cozy knit scarves all the way. One babe in the woods wore a webby crocheted baby doll dress, another a romantic rose-embroidered velvet skirt that swept the forest floor. But somewhere out in the wilderness, Marras must have lost his way. Those baggy, saggy pants Tom Ford proposed last season put in an appearance once again. Long after anyone can recall a single song MC Hammer ever recorded, his legend lives on.

Etro: There’s just no end to the bohemian hippie escapade that reared its peace-and-love message last season. But when you’re an accessories house famous for its signature paisley, maybe folkloric is the logical way to go. And for fall, Veronica Etro took this house down that same time-honored road once again. While some of the collection had that been-there, done-that attitude (think off-the-shoulder peasant blouses), there were still plenty of items that deserved some attention. Take the flouncy minis, for instance, with embroidered ribbon trims or the short, fur hoodies with toggle buttons — pieces that would, no doubt, even ignite the interest of the Hughes-Kwan contingent. Prints also took an intriguing turn here, with the house paisley showing up in subtle suits, while English-style tapestry — usually those reserved for chesterfields, as they say — became fodder for loose, roomy dresses or ruffled blouses and skirts. Embellishment, also a big hippie staple, at least, in luxe circles, was everywhere: waistbands on smocked skirts; hip-hanging belts; collars and hems, and even on a studded apron tunic, worn over a basic black turtleneck and pants.

Brioni: Upholding tradition — that’s what Fabio Piras did as he dove into the Brioni archives for the women’s collection, now in its third season, to capture the essence of the men’s wear the house is known for. Though Brioni’s history only goes back 50 years, its classic elements led Piras to an earlier time, the Twenties. “It was a bizarre era,” said Piras. “The collection is inspired by a woman of the Twenties who plays with masculinity, plays at espionage. It’s quite subversive, really. The clothes look demure, but it’s sensual and dramatic.” A sharp tuxedo, a pullover tunic in snow-white fur, a mysterious high-collared cashmere cape and a super-luxe cashmere officer’s coat made his point. But this wasn’t a retro trip. Piras pared it all down. After all, he is a professor at the ever-cool Central St. Martin’s in London and, as they say, teacher knows best. New York women will have a chance to suit up in the stuff come September, when the company opens its first women’s shop, a 4,000-square-foot boutique like the recently opened Milanese version, both of which are adjacent to a Four Seasons hotel.

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