MILAN: VARIETY PACK
VARIETY, THEY SAY, IS THE SPICE OF LIFE, AND THAT WAS CERTAINLY THE CASE AS THE MILAN COLLECTIONS ROLLED ALONG. DESIGNERS SHOWED EVERYTHING FROM SEX-KITTEN DRESSES TO WILD-AND-WOOKY FURS, AND SOME EVEN REVISITED MINIMALISM.

Krizia and Krizia Top: Jean-Paul Knott has a tough road ahead of him. In his first season consulting with Mariuccia Mandelli for Krizia and Krizia Top, Knott has been charged with forging not one signature, but two.
At Krizia, the mood was promising, but far from focused. While artsy tendencies that have thrown the collection off course in the past were gone — a good sign — the rest was a mixed bag. The shift dresses in floral-printed suede were appealing, as were long furs and tweed menswear-style suits worn with leather shirts and ties. Even the schoolgirl made it into the collection in paper-thin knits, pleated minis and beaded flapper dresses. Talk about a potpourri.
At Krizia Top, the look was more consistent, but it, too, had its messier moments. Here, the mood was hard-edged Eighties with lots of black leather, exaggerated shoulders and a sinister-looking sequined T-shirt that glistened like it was made with thousands of tiny scales. But is it really fair to be disappointed with Knott’s input? Rare is the designer who can make the leap from designing two collections a year to designing six without a hitch. So tune in next time.

Missoni: Oops! She did it again. And now, it’s time for Angela Missoni to stop her relentless pursuit of editorial frenzy. This is a collection sorely in need of control, and ironically, perhaps a top stylist could deliver it. Instead, Missoni insists on piling on more, more, more, when what everyone really wants is a fresh collection based on the house’s fabulous tradition of knitwear.
She started out on a promising note, with little sweaters appliqued with big squares that looked like leftovers from a quilting party. And she took those famous stripes in new directions, matching sweaters to the linings of smart coats and putting a sleek, zig-zag jacketover skinny pants.
But when Missoni began her dogged assault of color and pattern — tweeds, spider webs, asymmetric action, mile-long fringe — it all spun into a quagmire of confusion, and then fell apart. Which is a shame, because the components are there. They only have to be shaped into something that makes sense.

Alberta Ferretti: If Alberta Ferretti’s fall collection were a song, it’d be of the sweetly morose kind played solo by accordion at midnight in a subway station. But of course Ferretti’s never gone in for all the tough stuff. This season she let the others brandish their big-shoulders and bolder-than-brass attitudes, and instead she sent out a smattering of shrunken girlish coats, pleated skirts and natty velvet blazers as well as barrage of rumpled, crumpled and roughly pleated chiffons and velvets. Lived in? Try slept in. At times, all the dishevelment had a tenderness and a delicacy to it that was sublime, as with one pale green top, and the look took on a tremor of doe-eyed romance.
As the show marched on — and Ferretti’s palette passed from pale colors to charcoal gray and on to black — the look turned monotonous. As with a schoolgirl whose aim is to fascinate, sometimes its artistry was a little too obvious.

Max Mara and Sportmax: Take a strict look at Max Mara — literally. First of all, this venerable Italian sportswear house is investing heavily in the buttoned-up, high-collared, obey-me aesthetic of a high-powered lady boss. And it looked polished. Cozy navy melton coats, swashbuckling andankle-grazing or cropped, fencing styles opened the collection, which also included skinny pants, Edwardian-inspired tops, washed denim jeans and thin shirred shearlings.
Sportmax took a different stab at strict, veering towards the hard-edged rock ‘n’ roll sensibility of the Eighties, putting even some of the best-known icons — Pat Benatar, Madonna, Annie Lennox — to shame. Just look at the lineup: oversized sweatshirts, necks sliced open and hanging off one shoulder, worn with tough-girl leather minis, open-weave crochet sweaterdresses, snuggly fur bombers and trenches and a sexy strapless denim dress worn over leggings. Papa, don’t preach!

Genny: Poetry and handmade details may be the signatures of Josephus Thimister at his own house, but he can manage slick looks and hard-edged chic, too. That was the message at Genny this season, with a model army marching in black pantsuits and dark welding-style sunglasses shielding out the world. Ruffled leather blouses and simple white turtlenecks perked up the tailoring, which played with tuxedo lapels and trenchcoat details. Overall, it was a smooth take on tough. But there were a few too many early Eighties flashbacks, with taxi-cab yellow slickers and blue leather jumpsuits.

Blumarine: Even sex kittens know that winters can be frigid — just witness the bizarre snowstorms that have plagued Milan recently. Not to worry — Anna Molinari has plenty of toasty-warm options for even the most scantily dressed. They can start with her signature skimpy, sexy beaded dress, but don’t stop there, because the key message is layering. So pile on fur, fur and more fur. In the mood for an astrakan coat trimmed in fox? Or a denim jacket, lined generously in fox? Molinari has them. And why not top it all off with fur mittens, clunky fur boots and a Davy Crockett hat — the accessory rearing its head all over the place this season. Or they can check out her fanciful cowlneck sweaters and knit dresses that fall seductively off one shoulder, and ski sweaters with rhinestones spelling out such chic skiing locales as Cortina, Aspen and St. Moritz. Not that the Molinari gal would ever be caught dead on a lift line. She’s too busy shopping.

Anna Molinari: Two of the most captivating archetypes to come out of the Eighties are the Goth and the New Romantic. In fact, Rossella Tarabini found them intriguing enough to devote her entire Molinari collection to those moody girls. There were pretty Gothic tops in lace or puckered all over and a dress with perfectly puffed-up sleeves. And, from the New Romantic movement, plenty of ruffled skirts layered over one another and paired with striped sweaters or even a billowing pirate shirt were among the looks in the costume parade. Back when those styles were new, fashionable pioneers often aimed for the mysterious and came up with the clownish instead. Well, some things never change. While there were some bonafide beauts among Tarabini’s vampira-in-training dresses — – made from beaded spiderwebs or decorously trailing hanks of torn-up chiffon — it’s less clear whom these clothes are for. Morbid teens? Nostalgic adults?
While no one could accuse the designer of sending out an incoherent collection, her fascination with Eighties camp, one that’s been drawn out for seasons, is wearing thin

Roberto Cavalli: R-r-rich, r-r-raw and r-r-ravaged, Roberto Cavalli’s fall collection — presented on a stage tricked out like a hunting lodge, complete with a herd of hanging antlers, a glowing faux fireplace and trompe l’oeil fur rugs painted up and down the runway — was all that and sexy, to boot. Cavalli’s huntresses aren’t of the plaid cap and orange vest sort, but real wild things dressed in savage furs and denim that had been torn, feathered and splashed with bleach or with simulated red mud a la Alexander McQueen. The technology that went into creating these pieces is marvelous — jeans were made to look worn raw and peeling with brocades like an old wall covered in successive layers of wallpaper. Snug jackets were cropped and boned with corseting, waxy leathers were printed with images of bucks and eagles in flight, and a sweeping bleached denim coat came out with a grand Elizabethan feathered collar.
Cavalli’s untamed look is fun, though it had its feral moments, too. The best moment of all, however, came when the designer himself strode the length of the faux lodge, puffing on an old-fashioned, long-stemmed pipe. What a wild man.