The pop singer took a spectacular fall when her Armani cape suffered a wardrobe malfunction at the Brit Awards this week. The fashion-conscious needn't worry that a similar fate awaits them, however. Many of the capes showing up on runways during Milan Fashion Week, in its third day on Friday, are much less rebellious than the matador number Madonna rocked, many built delicately into the garments.
Highlights from Friday's shows, which include Emporio Armani, Etro, Giamba and Versace:
MADONNA'S ARMANI CAPE-R
It was the fashion fail of the week, but don't blame the designer.
Giorgio Armani says the bull fighter's cape that brought down Madonna during a live performance at Brit Awards was meant to be closed with an easy-to-undo hook. She wanted it tied instead.
"Madonna, as we all know, is very difficult," Armani said with a smile and a shrug backstage after his Emporio Armani show. "That's all there was to it."
Madonna was yanked backward down some steps after failing to untie the flowing cape. Madonna said the cape had been tied too tightly at the neck, and two dancers who were supposed to merely pull it off wound up dragging the singer down three steps. The singer told Britain's "Jonathan Ross Show" that she hit her head and suffered whiplash.
Giorgio Armani gave a soft male silhouette to his Emporio Armani line for the youthful dressing crowd — a little Nikita, a little Amelie.
"There is no longer the desire to dress so differently from men," Armani said backstage after the show. "Today's woman is strong, she doesn't lose her sense of femininity, and maintains her autonomy and her precise identity."
Armani expressed femininity through volume. Trousers were amply pleated, wide-legged and cropped, resembling a skirt, and flattering to most figures — especially pretty when paired with cropped tops or trim jackets. Shirt cuffs peeked out of jackets, emerging like a folded pair of origami wings.
Armani's feminine space included the colour palate, dominated by jewel tones of amethyst, ruby and sapphire, graphic Ikat prints and traditional girly touches, with a twist.
Ruffles were a recurring theme, assertive and not merely pretty, giving weight and movement to the bottom of a soft sweater jacket and a funky edge to the straps of leather handbags worn cross-body. Big ruffles decorated necklines and sleeves.
Handbags were a strong point of the collection, including small bags worn on a chain strap or appearing to be hooked from a belt.
Donatella Versace has pulled back noticeably on her bling deployment. No silver studs or golden Medusa heads here.
The collection promoted the brand's identity through the familiar geometric Greek key pattern, which was woven in traffic light colours into tights, stamped into raised patterns on leather, recreated in graphic variety on knitwear and formed the platform of Versace's chunky high-heels.
Versace's looks started with a canvas of basic black garments, with streaks red, yellow and green, expressing contrast in its most primary and primal form.
A long cutaway coat in double-face cashmere was kept mini in the front to show off shiny red thigh-high boots, vintage Versace, but then evolved quickly into a series of pinstriped outfits, including a pantsuit and a pencil skirt with a zipped slit up the back. Trousers were tight, and flared at the knee.
Eventually, black gave way to a saturation of colour: a red cape, a yellow swing coat and a shaggy green fur.
Versace is clearly looking to shake things up at the fashion house she took over 18 years ago after her brother, founder Gianni Versace, was killed. And that is underlined by the remixed brand identity, which included splaying the Versace letters in crystal across a series of sheer tops and mini-dresses, along with a hashtag. Versace is reaching out to a new, social-network-savvy generation.
When Selma Hayak Pinault shows up in the front row of a brand that her husband, French fashion magnate Francois-Henri Pinault, does not own, the buzz is official.
Hayak Pinault cozied up with Italian socialite Bianca Brandolini for Giambatista Valli's signature Giamba line, which made its debut last September in Milan. The pair commented and looked on approvingly at the parade of pretty floral looks accented with leather harnesses, black fishnet stockings and suede boots buckled all the way up the side.
Valli stunned the crowd in Paris where he shows his main line with a dramatic frothy cape that cascaded to the floor. He had a more dainty version on display in Milan: a wispy short sweep built into a black-and-white mini floral dress, which was belted thrice for emphasis.
Valli dedicated the collection to the "Instagram Girls," who he said inspired the looks. "When you are young, you need to have courage to be who you are to the very end," he said. "The more you do, the more you are beautiful."
Veronica Etro looked inside for inspiration to the collection for next winter. That's inside, as in interiors, not the soul.
Etro scanned the archives of the brand's long-history of home interior design, recreating patterns of ornate wallpaper, rich tapestries and luxurious upholsteries. She then mixed the patterns up in patchworks for an eclectic, pulled-from-a trunk feel that was underscored by the sometimes retro silhouette of long, belted dresses and 1970s colour palate: mustard yellow, browns, orange and rust, grounded by shades of blue.
Etro said she put real emphasis on the tailoring to keep the looks very disciplined.
"There is something bourgeois also in this collection, very formal but still keeping some fun," she said backstage.
RAINBOW COLORED GLASSES
Marco de Vincenzo can barely contain his ambition. Maybe that explains the rainbow-colored glasses accompanying his looks.
The 37-year-old designer won minority backing from French conglomerate LVMH last year, and he is certainly exercising the creative freedom that comes with that vote of confidence.
He wove tunics and skirts into checkerboard patterns, finishing in an assymetrical fringe. And the designer bleached and dyed denim into purple, green and blue, from which he created loose-fitting, cropped trousers in patchwork panels and matching long overcoat. De Vicenzo again plays with optical illusions, employing Lurex metallic yarns to create pretty rainbow striped dresses. Looks were finished with vibrant pink or green sandals of satiny braids.