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From baby-doll dresses to full-cut skirts to coats that could double as robes, designers’ love affair with more-is-better shapes continued in a big way.

Alberta Ferretti: Alberta Ferretti’s fall collection was autumnal to a T with nubby tweeds, cozy knits and passementerie coats putting a chill in the air. Chiffon dresses, while not particularly wintery, came cut loose on the body and were decorated with bits of crafty crochet.

Meanwhile, Ferretti joined the gaggle of Milanese designers eager to experiment with amped-up volumes, cutting her coats to flare at the hips and inflating skirts. Of course, those big, bold shapes can quickly turn thick and tricky, and the pumped-up look fell like a leaden soufflé with heavy crocheted lace dresses and hostess skirts. Soon enough, however, Ferretti was floating once again, sending out several wonderful evening looks, including a pale gray party dress streaked with icicles of shining silver.

Trend Les Copains: Two trends sweeping through Milan are a sober mood highlighted by new volumes and proportions and a fascination with lord-of-the-manor fabrics. Antonio Marras, the creative director of Trend Les Copains, channeled both in a strong fall collection that shunned pure traditional fare and played up the designer’s keen eye for shape and passion for fabrics. 

The first exit summed up the mood — a flowy rose silk blouse under a brown pinstriped riding jacket and matching breeches, complete with a rhinestone whip and leather cap. That silhouette dominated the runway as Marras offered endless variations on the theme. An off-the-shoulder pink sweater with appliquéd roses topped mud brown velvet breeches, while a black sheared fur jacket with floral motif was worn over flannel riding pants. The look carried over to evening as a sequined paisley twin set paired up with blue denim breeches.

But Marras knows his spiffy horse set also needs clothes for those après-stable moments. Then they can trot off in bouclé skirts and jackets, embroidered flannel coats or fur-trimmed hopsack versions over chevron pantsuits. Marras delivered clothes that blended commercial clout with a trendy edge, and that’s good horse sense.

Piazza Sempione: Piazza Sempione creative director Marisa Guerrizio knows that her clients appreciate a nod toward seasonal trends and just that. She understands how disconcerting it would be for her loyal customers to go from slim pencil skirts to this season’s love affair with volume. So rather than overwhelm them with fashion hyperbole, Guerrizio concentrated on updating Piazza Sempione’s perennial elegance through subtle changes in proportions, textures and patterns.

This story first appeared in the February 24, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For fall she showed slightly boxy cashmere knits with contrast borders, navy silk Empire dresses with understated billowy hems, fuller-cut tweed jackets and cropped silk pants done in vintage-tie jacquard prints. The charming collection had just the right amount of faint fantasy for women grounded in reality. Meanwhile, the company’s retail reality is growing with plans to open its first flagship in Rome later this year.

D&G: If there’s ever been a natural theme for Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to explore with their D&G collection, it’s glam rock. After all, what is D&G but a little bit glam and a whole lot of rock? The designers’ ode to Ziggy Stardust and his brethren meant lots of Victoriana by way of Portobello and a fleet of fluffy and fab check-me-out furs. High-collared lace tops were paired with cropped velvet pants or micro-miniskirts. Baby-doll dresses were trimmed with velvet ribbons or edged in lace and cut ultrashort and cheeky. These were plentiful — and adorable — and spun the season’s fascination with volume in a fresh way. But while a D&G send-up of the glittering Seventies makes perfect sense, this collection occasionally lacked the wit and originality of the designers’ brightest best.

Krizia: Mariuccia Mandelli, who took her bow this season with Krizia’s longtime artistic director, Paolo Trillini, has gender play on her mind. Her masculine-feminine motif mingled oversized dress shirts and tailored jackets with glittery girly fare. And though she may go solo in her androgynous approach this season, Mandelli endorsed the bigger-is-better trend in a major way. Her robe-like coats were cut in gigantic proportions. Sweaters spilled over the shoulders. Heavy tweed pants were roomy and then some. The best of the lot, however, were her simplest looks: a shift dress paved with paillettes and shrunken boyish jackets.

Mariella Burani: Milan is low on high-wattage celebrities this season, but Mariella Burani’s front row is always brimming with pretty, pouty Italian stars who are happy to show off the designer’s clothes, in their own ways, of course. Burani, in fact, caters to all their personal styles with collections that often fuse contrasting themes and a variety of inspirations. Evidently, she wants to reach a vast clientele.

This season her lineup of looks included a biker-chick black leather jacket and boots over a ruffled peasant dress in lollipop pink; a beige glen plaid pantsuit and fur vest; a gypsy-ish hoop skirt in crushed velvet, lace and tulle swirling under a grass-green fuzzy wool coat. And you can always count on Burani for prints. This season, it was postcard views of Venice — guess where that came from — splattered across satin skirts and nylon ski jackets. Something for everyone, as they say.