Midway through Milan Fashion Week, it's clear designers are leaving it up to personal choice, offering everything from a trailing gown to a mini-skirt.
Bottega Veneta is the iconoclast, sticking to one hem length: a ladylike just below the knee.
If anything, the pant is getting short-shrift. Cropped pants are the favourite look, and gauchos are making a minor comeback. Short shorts are definitely in — often set off by billowing tops. Here, too, designers are hedging their bets, offering skinny cigarette pants or ample palazzo pajama pants.
The blousy top and fitted bottom is the preferred silhouette. A lot of volume is in the sleeves.
Often a slim belt provides definition.
The print parade continues. Aquilano Rimondi had harlequin prints. Bottega Veneta showed delicate florals. And Fendi went for sunbursts.
But solids are also a clear trend, with a lot of earthy, natural colours: mustard, apricot, browns, blossom pink.
Jil Sander has returned, and it shows.
No more dabbling into romantic or experimental styles, as happened when the label was in the creative hands of Raf Simons. It's back to minimalist basics for the 68-year-old German designer.
Black is black white is white, a jacket is a jacket, a blouse is a blouse, and a skirt or trouser is a skirt or trouser. After founding the company in the late 1960s she came and left it several times before taking it back in spring 2012, and showing her first menswear in June.
For her women's comeback debut Sander concentrated on volume games, creating an interplay between abundance and fittedness, often showing a slim back paired with a bold front. As usual, she only used fabric of the highest quality.
Along with different forms to choose from, ranging from tapered to conic, from straight up and down to sculpted and curvy, the collection was highly wearable.
Streamlined jackets and coats with three-quarter sleeves and oversized pockets, crisp white blouses, stiff below the knee A-line skirts and more easygoing high-waisted gaucho pants, all combine to create an ultra-clean cut look. Dresses decorated with shiny albeit discreet rubberized discs add a little jazz.
The colour palette of course was minimalist, black white and navy with dashes of plum, bright orange and red, just to quiet critics who claim minimalist means bland.
Footwear too was a little more adventurous with high-heeled two-tone jodhpur booties zipped up the back. To go with the sobriety of the look the models wore their long hair parted in the middle and neatly gathered at the neck.
Short, sweet and so very elegant. That pretty much sums up a show where everything seemed to fit together effortlessly, even though creative director Tomas Maier puts great effort into the meticulous detail.
The spring-summer 2013 Bottega Veneta womenswear collection had all the elements seen on the current runway from floral prints to studs, to fringes to ankle straps for footwear. Sometimes Maier even mingles more than one trend in the same outfit and yet the wearer never risks being a fashion victim.
On the contrary, the look was super ladylike, underlined by the just below the knee hemline which defined every dress; there were no pants.
A white pencil skirt worn with a crisp white blouse was spiffed up by delicate studding at the seams. A pretty silk shirt dress belted at the waist was made even more lovely by its delicate floral print, a single white blossom repeated on a golden brown background. A strapless dress was made entirely out of silk fringe, while a camisole dress had tiny leather flowers stitched on to create a three-dimensional pattern.
As the brief show (around 50 outfits) progressed, different types of detailing blended in the same outfit. A single sleeveless silk dress combined leather, two types of floral prints, and a myriad of studs as delicate as sequins, which created a pattern for the bodice as well as highlighting the seams.
The summer palette ranges from white and black to powder pink, pale green, golden brown and deep blue.
The ankle strap footwear seen on most runways showed up at Bottega, this time for the high thick-heeled sandals, and summer pumps. Another ladylike offering came in the high heeled golf shoes.
Models in the show had their hair gently pulled back leaving feminine wisps, and wore nearly imperceptible makeup.
Fendi's latest summer collection has a geometric certainty.
The look presented during Milan Fashion week contained clear geometric elements -- from rectangular panels on shirts, skirts and pants to cube-shaped evening bags.
The purposefulness of the clothing was also in their construction.
Designers Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi created layered looks in single pieces that gave a clean impression. A long mustard-colored dress appears to have a belted overcoat, but it is actually one piece. Shorter dresses appear to have jackets, but it is all-in-one. And a skirt back is fitted over shorts and a cape is incorporated into a silver beaded dress.
Shoes and bags are essential elements of the look. Footwear includes multi-strapped sandals in colours from peach to gold with thick studded heels. Bags ranged from the cube shaped evening bag, held from a wrist strap, to small clutches and larger shoppers with a built-in exterior baguette bag.
Leather was a mainstay in the collection, from skirts to pants and jackets — emblazoned with the iconic Fendi "F," turned upside down and tilted on its access for an enhanced graphic effect.
Sharon Stone and beau Martin Mica were in the front row for the spring-summer 2013 preview show Saturday. Stone has been in town attending shows, and was chairing the charity auction of the Foundation for AIDS Research, or amFar, on Saturday night.
Designers Roberto Rimondi and Tommaso Aquilano journey from northern Italy to Japan in their women's collection for next spring and summer.
Each outfit in the collection previewed Saturday was painstaking in its detail and completely unique. The colour scheme was the common thread: black, white, red and blue formed the main palette, complemented by flashes of turquoise, yellow and fuchsia.
Like other labels this season, the designers played with volumes. A dress might have a bustier top that flows into a bubble skirt with a pencil skirt fitted underneath. Most of the clothes were skirts and dresses, of varying lengths. Hot pants peeked from under some ample tops.
The designing pair took inspiration from the Harlequin, the comic servant from the Italian Commedia dell'arte, employing the classic diamond pattern of his costume as a motif throughout the collection. And in a nod to Asia, they also took a cue from the Japanese obi sash, which became a prominent accessory and another source of volume for the clothes.