MILAN - No one got the message stronger that Milan needs a jolt than Moschino -- the iconoclast fashion house that has never shrunk from poking fun at the fashion world.
Moschino staged an extravaganza to mark its own 30th anniversary, energizing Milan Fashion Week on its fourth day Saturday with top models shimmying down the runway as they did in the '80s as part of a tongue-in-cheek runway show presenting opposites and alter-egos.
As a finale, Gloria Gaynor appeared on stage singing her 1983 disco era hit, "I Am What I Am," sending a current of excitement through the normally too-cool-for-school fashion crowd.
In a phrase, as emblazoned on one Moschino creation, "Holy Chic."
It was just the right note for a day on which three newcomers made their Milan womenswear debuts: Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean with Caribbean-inspired looks, German Philipp Plein with a collection bathed in studs and Swarovski, and Greek designer Angelos Bratis' draped goddess dresses.
The known factor is that Bottega Veneta is a class act. Each season the surprise comes in how creative designer Tomas Maier will interpret that innate sense of style.
For the spring 2014, it's all about ruffles, bows and pleats, which Maier manages to turn from "girlie" into feminine chic.
The colour palette is as understated as ever with intense darks and pale neutrals, livened up by the new pale terra-cotta, reminiscent of the facade of an old Roman palazzo faded by centuries of intense sun. There is not a single print in the collection, although light feather and generous beading appear for the evening.
The collection, as the designer says in his show notes, is more about the fabric than the styles, which remain minimalist sheaths, knee-length skirts and shorts.
Designer Jil Sander moved forward, but not too far, from her renowned minimalist style. The German designer offered jackets and coats with soft lines, youthful dresses and boyish pants, and a palette that when not staple neutral and black, bursts out into tiny multicolored patterns.
The silhouette stands away from the body but is less rigid than in past seasons, with unlikely — if not daring — slits down the back and up the sides of a leather top, or a printed dress.
The summer trouser is cut wide like a sailor pant, but cuffed and cropped mid-calf. Comfortable sandals with thick rubber and wooden soles complete every outfit.
Fear not. There is plenty for those looking for traditional Jil Sander, from the duster coat in urban grey to the androgynous black pant suit, to the unfussy floor-length gowns.
Robert Cavalli created looks for cinematic divas for his summer 2014 women's collection.
Shown under the bright white lights of a movie set, the red carpet collection featured flowing gowns, many beaded, and all in muted shades. The gowns draped the body without ever clinging — a change for Cavalli.
The collection was on message with trends seen around Milan this week: pastel colours, metallic shimmers and diaphanous fabrics.
But there were plenty of Cavalli touches. Sequins, beads and tassels vamped up the looks. And though the collection is for summer, the designer finished many looks with colored fur stoles draped over one shoulder, recalling the heyday of Hollywood.
The design team of Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi may start with Paul Gauguin in Polynesia or African Masai crafts, but the end game is always Italian couture.
Aquilano-Rimondi's collection for next summer was both colorful and pretty — ever inventive in its silhouette and yet fathomable.
The Masai gave Aquilano-Rimondi depth of colour this round: emerald, ochre, purple and blue that form concentric swaths on knee-length pencil skirts, crop tops with rounded shoulders or sheath dresses.
From Gauguin, Aquilano-Rimondi transpose images of the painter's Polynesian women onto a silk pencil skirt, worn with a man's shirt, a long-sleeved mini-dress or a boxy, belted top.
Hemlines varied from knee-length pencil skirts to super minis. The shoes were Masai-style sandals, flats or heels, colorfully bejeweled.
Haitian-Italian designer Stella Jean created a silhouette for her debut runway collection that was familiar yet exotic.
An oversized bell-shaped skirt kept in shape by a concealed petticoat both recalled a 1950s sock hop — a point she made by an argyle sweater pairing — and Creole styles reflecting her mother's origins, which received a nod through huge double-peaked head ties and tropical accents.
A former runway model, Stella Jean demonstrated how restraint and tailoring can keep an exuberant look from veering into the cartoonish, even when a blue-and-white checked big-bubble skirt is paired with an enormously cut striped jacket in purple and blues and a tropical print bra top.
While Stella Jean fittingly indulged in bright colours and generously mixed-and-matched clashing patterns, she toned it down at times with understated shades, sometimes choosing a dusty blue over aquamarine, aqua green instead of a bolder shade, and mustard over canary yellow.
The collection's silhouette also included long hip-hugging skirts that flair into a dramatic mermaid-like train. She included pants and shorts in the mix, and masculine touches like striped shirts and men's hats.
Deluxe athletic wear has been a trend throughout the current fashion week, but no one so far painted the gym quite as gold as Peter Dundas for Pucci.
For his spring/summer 2014 collection, the Norwegian designer turned the aristocratic Florentine house inside out, even mixing its iconic prints and using them on biker shorts and training pants.
Sportswear was the core idea behind the looks. Basketball tank tops were turned into glam wear when spun out of jet beaded tulle and paired with bronze colored silk boxer shorts. The prosaic jump suit, or workers overalls, was kicked into high gear when fashioned out of glimmering metallic material. By night, track wear netting was turned into see-through evening gowns.