WHATEVER GETS YOU THROUGH THE DAY — AND NIGHT
FROM ALBERTA FERRETTI’S RUFFLES AND FEMININE FLOURISHES TO PUCCI AND ETRO’S BOLD PATTERNS AND ALLEGRI’S MYRIAD VARIATIONS ON TRENCH DRESSING, THERE WAS SOMETHING FOR ALMOST EVERY TASTE IN MILAN’S FINAL SHOWS.

Alberta Ferretti: Softly, ever so softly — that’s Alberta Ferretti’s motto for spring. She showed full skirts, boxy jackets and simple belted knits, all in china blue, tan and tangerine, and let the colors speak for themselves. The shapes brought a hint of Courreges classics to mind, while top stitching gave lightweight coats in suede and in cotton a quiet charm of their own. The djellabas didn’t seem to fit in with the rest. But of course, Ferretti didn’t skimp on the filmy dresses she does so well, sending out dozens of them. They came tucked, knotted, appliqued with flowers, decorated with tiny strips of fluttering chiffon or bands of ruffles, inset with sheer chiffon and layered.

Moschino Cheap & Chic: Where else but at Cheap & Chic does one line pay tribute to so many muses? For spring, there was a purple rodeo suit trimmed with hot pink piping and a rodeo queen sundress in homage to Dale Evans, while studded black leather, tiered lace and graffiti-printed pieces would have made Billy Idol proud. Candy-colored floral dresses with ample underskirts, on the other hand, seemed just right for Glinda the Good Witch. The only other show that covers so much ground is the Universal Studios tour.

Pucci: Attention all designers: Polish up those resumes. The hunt is on. After spending a year as the quiet child of the LVMH family, the house of Pucci isn’t just sitting back anymore. In an attempt to build the brand globally, a search is on for a designer. In the meantime, a design team — a popular concept with fashion houses here in Milan — has been tucking, pinning and reworking those eye-popping signature prints. And for spring, that means really bright — chartreuse, coral and the odd touch of tomato red. There were fitted scoop-neck shirts and dresses, buttoned up the sleeve; cheeky little HotPants, and halter-neck gowns, which looked newest in cotton voile with just the slightest hint of sheerness. But the simple, solid pieces were so plain, they bordered on generic, save for a few trenchcoat dresses.

Etro: There’s no dearth of patterns at Etro, and for spring the fabric/design house experimented with all kinds of graphic prints. The theme of the collection was the digital age, and designer Veronica Etro did a great job of translating those high-tech symbols onto fabric. Among the most interesting renditions were a bar-code striped skirt with a sequin blouse in crisp black and white, and a dotted velvet top and checked skirt. And the workmanship on the colorful beaded floral kimono was impeccable. But too many mixed patterns can be trouble — the rectangle and colorblock combos, for instance, which were just overwhelming.

Bottega Veneta: To quote the Go-Gos and an Eighties song lyric that suits this season perfectly, “We’ve got the beat.” At Bottega Veneta, the accessories house, that came across loud and clear. Its spring collection was hip and fun, and there wasn’t one sizzling trend this company didn’t hit on. You want a little purple leather to relive those Montana moments? There was plenty here. Or how about a roomy blouson leather jacket, belted over little gym shorts? They’ve got those, too. And let’s not forget the legions of Eighties super-glamazons — Brigitte Neilsen, Chrissie Hynde, Jennifer Beals — who also showed up in drop-dead, attention-getting regalia: Tough-girl black leather maillots, along with leather briefcases and motorcycle gloves; neon leopard-spotted pantsuits with matching ties and Vans sneakers or gray sweatshirts, cut up and tucked into oversized, paper-waist leather skirts. Was it for every woman? No way, but then, neither were the Eighties.

Allegri: It’s trench time at Allegri. For spring, the outerwear company revisited a fashion classic and served it up in enough appealing shapes and variations to send Garbo into a swoon. The gamut was a lesson in fashion extremes: long and short, ample and close-fitting, colorful and neutral, tailored and deconstructed shapes that were shown over fluid silk pants and tank tops. While Allegri usually focuses on high-performance, manmade fabrics worthy of NASA, this time they opted for natural fabrics: cotton, linen, silk georgette and parachute silk.

Mariella Burani: This company means business. Burani has bought the Mila Schon label, recently went public on the Milan stock exchange, and is focused on building a luxury goods group. But when it comes to her collection, she’s a true romantic. She sent out a pretty array of ethereal dresses: featherlight silks in brightly colored florals, lace-embroidered tops, dotted silks with layers of organza and delicate, handsewn shirts with broderie anglaise. Burani’s fans can simply drift into spring.

Trussardi: With a reputation built on accessories, Trussardi knows a thing or two about leather. And, as their ready-to-wear collection proved, the house excels when it sticks to what it does best. Tightly woven leather, worked into skirts and dresses, was luxurious and distinctive. Ditto for the tightly pleated leather skirts and dresses and the perforated leathers and suedes lined with silk. Unfortunately, the sweaters and most of the woven pieces lacked the same level of sophistication and quality.

Rebecca Moses: It was an invitation to fly off to the Cote d’ Azur. In her program notes, Rebecca Moses said that she was inspired by Jacques Henri Lartigue’s photos of women on the French Riviera. And she provided the perfect clothes for an evening stroll on the Promenade des Anglais or a cocktail at Monte Carlo’s Loews Hotel. Featherweight knits in a black and tan combination, pretty trenches in iridescent pastels, flaring skirts with insets, bias-cut dresses and blouses with soft drapings made for an ultra-feminine, sweet collection. In a more sensuous mood, Moses sent out long, full skirts in exaggerated tropical floral prints and black evening dresses.

Hilton Vestimenta: Known for its tailored looks, Hilton Vestimenta didn’t disappoint its traditional customers, showing beautifully cut jackets over pleated or deep-slit skirts for spring. Designer Guglielmo Capone also experimented with prints — geometrics, florals, and irregular, faded polkadots — in pretty silks, linen and cotton that were at times embellished with metallic threads, embroidery and sequins.

Luisa Beccaria: Luisa Beccaria has always loved delicate, feminine looks, and this collection was no exception. It exuded a low-key richness in silk slip dresses and pleated poppy-printed chiffon skirts, cotton sundresses and eyelet blouses. Linen and silk skirts and trousers were embroidered with mother-of-pearl beads and Swarovski crystals. Evening was ablaze with gold lame dresses and gold-heeled shoes, while Beccaria’s more subdued customers will probably prefer black cotton dresses with Empire waists. The designer expects sales to reach $3.6 million this year, and her U.S. clients include Linda Dresner, Jeffreys and Barneys New York.

Antonio Fusco: Not only does Antonio Fusco believe that the suit is synonymous with feminine elegance, he’s convinced it’s an expression of power. That said, however, he avoided an Eighties rerun of power suits, opting instead for good old classic tailoring with his signature sharp cuts in men’s fabrics served up in a sexy way. This season, Fusco’s mad for gray and red pinstriped wool, which he shaped into razor-sharp pantsuits over unbuttoned white shirts; longer jackets tossed over polka-dot HotPants; and sexy halter tops paired with straight-legged pants. And for club-hopping nights, there were dotted silk dresses a la Audrey Hepburn, sheer black silk ruffled tops with stovepipe pants and snug jackets in flaming red leather over zebra-printed skirts.

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