MILAN - Milan designers chose structured, architectural looks in their collections for next year.
On the runways, the basic silhouette is voluminous, though cinched at the waist and often with a slim bottom. Drapes and pleats softened and gave movement to what could otherwise have been rigid looks.
Shoulders play a big role — but this is no return to the 1980s padded shoulders. Instead, these are true products of design, artfully conceived and executed. Sometimes they are squared, sometimes rounded, and at times even pleated.
Colours are bold — oranges, reds, yellows — often on a black background. Black mingles with white in geometric designs. But the real stamp of luxury is gold, embroidery, brocade, in entire outfits or accents.
Pants are really an afterthought. Most of the architectural inspiration has been focused on skirts, dresses and outerwear. So much the better for showing off all the fantastic shoes.
Bottega Veneta's looks for women next winter project strength and decision. Creative director Tomas Maier's collection was precisely constructed, with blunt pleats, ruffles and draping that created both volume and movement while enhancing the figure.
Materials define the fall-winter 2013-14 collection. Maier worked with wool to create new looks, from plush to felty to subdued.
Coats, which led off the collection, were belted with thin leather strips or ribbons, the look finished with fine leather gloves. Architectural structuring catches the eye from a distance, and detailing like raised decorative piping keeps the viewer enthralled from a closer view.
Colours tended toward the dark, black and greys, with flashes of red, yellow and curry.
Shoes were inspired by a men's loafer or lace-up booties with chunky heels, and some interesting details like tabs on the back of the heels. Bags were smaller than in seasons past, with no handles, and made of woolens mixed with napa leather and decorated with raffia.
While most runways have shown long hair left slightly wavy or pulled back, Maier's models sported voluminous styles, which from a flat crown burst out into fizzy curls.
Jil Sander is back, and it shows. Belgian designer Raf Simons, now with Dior, had livened up the minimalist label with bold colours and inventive styles. But since the company's founder took back the reins a year ago, the style has reverted to precise, disciplined tailoring, for the most part in no-nonsense colours.
Big double-breasted coats, jackets with sculpted shoulders, pleated skirts and tailored dresses, all combine to create a fashion code based on geometric shapes in the collection presented Saturday.
But if the style and, sometimes even the fabric, are rigid, the effect of the latest Sander collection is more sensual than sensible, obtained by the generous pleating and draping used throughout the show.
For designer Roberto Cavalli, it was a very quiet and surprisingly elegant show.
The master of sexy fashion shunned his trademark animal prints and body-clinging clothes, replacing them with sparkling fabric in high society styles.
But despite the glitter there was something dark about the womenswear collection, a reflection of the prevailing aggressive mood of this round of preview showings.
The extravagant fur coats for example, shaggy and black with splashes of bright red or yellow, were something Cruella De Vil, Disney's despised dognapper, might favour. The shoes, too, came with a nasty high metal heel.
But the series of cocktail and evening dresses, with hand-stitched sequined prints inspired by works in the museums of designer Cavalli's native Florence were literally awesome. Whether floor length, with dipping neckline, or short with demure pleated skirt and sleeveless top, the outfits are a treat to the eye and a relief from the edgy feel of next winter's fashion.
Instead of "Off with her head!," it's "Off with that bow!"
Alice in Wonderland finally can ditch that blue dress and white smock once and for all. And that classic black hair ribbon is so pre-rabbit hole.
Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi have created a whole grown-up wardrobe for Alice, who, according to the press notes, is "a woman able to dream and follow her dreams." She's less Lewis Carroll's young girl and more Tim Burton's edgier creation.
There's a lot of "muchness" in the look for next winter. Outfits were sculpted in inventive ways that incorporated playing card motifs, the designing duo's classic styles and stiff, masculine fabrics.
AquilanoRimondi's pencil-into-bubble dress had many variations, including innocent red plaid, belted, with short, puffed black velvet sleeves with golden hearts. Others shimmered fantastically with black sequins. The pair gave one nod to innocence, with a lace collar. There also were flared skirts with voluminous folds, an homage to the 1950s, often in plaid or checked tweeds.
Hearts were one of the prevailing motifs, showing up as patterns on silken fabrics and in neat rows down the back of high-heeled shoes. They also formed large panels on the front of dresses that cleverly concealed pockets.
It was a naughty little show, but quite a relief from the Goth fashion prevalent on the current Milan runway.
The mood at the Emilio Pucci show for next fall "is playful and unapologetically optimistic," Norwegian designer Peter Dundas said in the notes for the collection presented Saturday in a downtown Milan palazzo.
The "Pucci Girl" is carefree, glamorous and sassy. She likes hot pants, miniskirts and thigh-high boots that cling like a second skin. She's not satisfied with just a mink jacket. It has to be fabulously pink and puffy.
For evening she decorates her shorts and matching top with glittery sequins, and switches to stiletto pumps, baring her legs.
Much of the collection's night wear is a flirtatious combination of sheer fabrics, prints and embroidery. The Midas touch comes in tunic dresses and gowns held together by myriad gilded beads.
The maison Vionnet is honouring its heritage with an exhibit of sketches of founder Madeleine Vionnet's designs as rendered by the futurist artist Thayaht.
The 60 sketches, on display at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan in conjunction with fashion week, also pay tribute to the French design house's bonds with Italy.
Madeleine Vionnet designed strictly on 80-centimetre (31-inche) mannequins, which allowed her to achieve the proper draping and three-dimensional effect on the body. The designs were rendered into drawings by Thayaht, an Italian artist born Ernesto Michahelles, who invented the iconic Italian blue worker's jumpsuit. They depict a bold tunic with an asymmetrical shawl top and drop-waist black gown with a red-and-brown sash.
The French house founded in 1912 was purchased in 2008 by Matteo Marzotto and Gianni Castiglioni, who are recreating the French brand with Italian quality. They have brought on Milan-based Russian designer Goga Ashkenazi as creative director, who has kept up the house's tradition of designing on mannequins.