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Milan runways as festive as Carnevale costumes

By Daniela Petroff

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Feb. 25 2012 12:40 p.m. MST

MILAN — All of Milan plays dress up during Carnevale.

While fashionistas race from show to show to see the latest designer creations, Milan's confetti-strewn streets reverberated Saturday with a spontaneous parade of children dressed up as princesses, fairies and super heroes just for the fun of it.

Many of the looks on Milan's runways are as festive as any Carneval getup — which may or may not be a coincidence given that Milan's celebrations this year happened to fall during fashion week.

Taffeta and tulle, essentials for any proper princess and ballerina, are both staples of the season on Milan runways.

Designers have dipped into their troves of sequins and beads for next year's winter womenswear collections, and they haven't stopped there. They've added big necklaces, brooches and oversized hoop earrings for maximum pizazz.

Uniforms and hats are also mainstays — allowing women to adopt another persona, be it an officer, a warrior or a fun-loving flapper. Shoes are also costumey, from Victorian lace-up or button-up booties to comic strip Mary Janes.

JIL SANDER

Despite the standing ovation lead by Vogue America's Anna Wintour at the end of the show, Raf Simons left the Milan fashion scene quietly, just as he had come in 6 1/2 years ago.

In 2005, the 44-year-old Belgian designer took the helm at the faltering Jil Sander label, in search of a designer who could take the line further without abandoning the minimalist trademark of the founder, who had since left the company.

His first black and white womenswear collection showed he had the stuff, and collection after collection (men and women) he gained in confidence to slowly create his own vision of Jil Sander, which several seasons ago culminated in a bonanza of color and maxi gowns that dazzled the fashion world.

The winter 2013 show, presented on the fourth day of Milan Fashion Week on Saturday, was his last as creative director for the label. It was soft, serene and very special.

Models with little makeup, their hair pulled back in straight pony tails, wound their way around six floral arrangements on the runway wearing pink, coral or beige pastel robe coats with shawl lapels and a mid-calf hemline. Underneath, they wore lingerie-like dresses with delicately knitted tops and chiffon skirts, accompanied by simple sling back footwear.

After a sudden burst of bright carnation red, the palette turned ivory white and then jet black for the finale of top-drawer evening gowns — perhaps not without a message that he was returning to the roots.

The look is measured and yet feminine — in any case feminine enough to fuel reports that have Simons on his way to Dior to replace designer John Galliano, who was fired after a drunken tirade in Paris a year ago.

Earlier in the week, the Jil Sander Group announced that the founder herself was coming back as creative designer for the company she started in 1968.

EMPORIO ARMANI

Giorgio Armani has put a fashion twist in his knickers. And that's a good thing.

Armani presents a sleek trouser that cuffs at the knee with a flourish, creating a fresh silhouette in his second line Emporio womenswear collection for next winter presented during Milan Fashion Week on Saturday.

"I would like you to write that Armani has invented new pants," Armani told reporters backstage before the show.

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