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Max Mara/Sportmax: Other trends may come and go, but every spring, safari springs eternal. And there’s a good reason. The safari jacket is one powerful wardrobe solution. Since Yves Saint Laurent, and later Tom Ford, refined the jacket’s proportions, it has become a staple of elegant urban attire. The Max Mara gang certainly didn’t miss that trick. Scores of well-done renditions of the classic — including a safari vest in filmy chiffon — were shown this time, alongside slim skirts and slimmer pants. Tribal prints matched the adventuresome mood, while pieces in white eyelet kept things looking pretty. Easy to understand and easy to wear, these are the kind of clothes that sell themselves. As for the dozen or so dhoti jumpers shown in their midst — well, that’s another story, best forgotten.

At Sportmax, the design team offered another take on classic summer fashion with a collection centered around madras. Instead of mounting a preppy campaign, the look was offbeat and amped up with a little bohemian drama. Out came a madras trapeze dress with a beaded bodice and a madras blazer over an aqua pointelle top and a nappy mustard sack skirt. Beyond the plaid, things were rounded out with softly draped T-shirts, prairie skirts, a little lace here and a bit of beading there. It was all done with a breezy attitude.

Piazza Sempione: An ode to lightness — that’s how Marisa Guerrizio describes her collection. And what could be more fitting for those lazy, hazy days of summer? Guerrizio filled her show with delicate silk chiffons, tissue-thin brocades, gauzy cashmere knits and double-faced cotton. She fashioned them into retro jacket-and-skirt combos, formal tailored jackets, slim hip-hugger pants and pretty-lady dresses.

Guerrizio also hopped on the ethnic bandwagon, showing ombré prints in sun-drenched hues and snug suits bordered with delicate Indian-inspired embroideries. Aside from a shot of fuchsia and turquoise, the color palette was mostly pastels and earth tones. The designer served up plenty of light and gentle fare that’s sure to appeal to the Piazza Sempione woman.

Borbonese: Design director Alessandro Dell’Acqua is no stranger to sexiness, but at Borbonese, he saves most of the razzle-dazzle for the accessories, still the brand’s driving force.

This story first appeared in the October 1, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

To that end, Dell’Acqua paired his lavishly decorated accessories with clean-cut, luxurious basics, juiced up with just the right doses of current trends. Gold metallic hobo bags glimmered against white peasant blouses; bejeweled cord wedges or braided ankle-strap sandals were shown with leather halter dresses, while a lime green-bordered python handbag added punch to a denim pencil skirt and striped T-shirt. Playing with the company’s signature bird’s-eye pattern, Dell’Acqua fashioned it into belts, added butterfly clasps in tortoise or rhinestones and cinched the waists of handkerchief dresses and low-slung pants. Fashionistas and accessories hounds will find plenty of instant gratification here.

Antonio Marras: There’s no doubt that Antonio Marras goes his own way, with an esoteric vision that takes the artsy-craftsy route rather than the commercial highway. The sound of swooshing water, birds chirping and pictures of sinuous dancers projected against a white backdrop set the mood for his romantic-cum-contemporary message, with avant-garde shapes coexisting with girly accoutrements.

Marras loves to play with all sorts of fabrics — mixing them, slashing, draping, ruching and wrapping them every which way. What stood out in his spring lineup were boxy cutaway jackets in lush brocades over tiered skirts, gray pinstriped pants paired with a powder pink cropped kimono jacket, jeans topped by a draped jacket with slit sleeves and white blouses with granny lace ruffles tumbling down the front over baggy pants. The ka-ching of cash registers may not be on this designer’s mind, but if you pull apart his collection, there are plenty of little treasures to discover.