Milan runways as festive as Carnevale costumes

By Daniela Petroff

Associated Press

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

The pants — which Armani did not name — formed the centerpiece of the collection, worn beneath 1920s-style flapper dresses in light, flowing fabric or with belted tops that finished in tiers or a ruffled flare for a carefree, unstructured line.

While the pants bear echoes of what Americans might call knickers, and the British call plus-fours, there was nothing of the baggy golfing pants in Armani's creations. Made of silk or velvet, the Emporio pants are sleek and fitted, finishing at the knee with a flair or tiered cuff.

Paired with jackets, skirts, dresses or fanciful tops, the overall look was a potpourri of layers that allows the imagination to run wild and included other festive touches like long fringe on coats, polka dotted and striped fabric for jackets, and colorful long fur vests.

The designer paired the pants with flat slippers with floral fabric toes or shiny lace-up shoes, and always with opaque tights.

Armani said he considered high heels, but rejected the impact as too warrior-like — an effect that many of his Milan colleagues have engaged.

"Even if we fought for high heels, with these pants, the Emporio woman seemed to be a valkyrie, or a call girl," he said.

Emporio colors were mostly black and white, with touches of bold red and amethyst blue.

BOTTEGA VENETA

Shouts of "Bravo" rang out as Tomas Maier took his bow at the end of a show that was short, sweet and to the point.

The new Bottega Veneta winter collection, presented Saturday during Milan Fashion Week, had the contemporary elegance that has marked the label since creative director Maier came on board in 2001, but softened the trademark minimalist edge with such details as jeweled beading, ruching, sequining and embossed velvet embroidery.

From the early morning hours, it is clear that this lady is into luxury — the downplayed kind. She wears a simple sheath over a closely-fitting black coat, with dainty velvet collar and couture wool buttons, paired with a pair of flat equestrian style boots and a contrasting brown Bottega Veneta basket weave shoulder bag.

The Bottega woman's dark suit is double-breasted with the same chic buttons and a proper mid-calf hemline, or she might opt for a taupe blue double breasted dress that looks like a one-piece suit.

As the day wears on, the clothes get lighter-soft sweaters and winter peddle pushers replace the more formal but never rigid outerwear. These outfits are worn with ankle booties and knee socks, and accessorized by a clutch bag with crisscross leather seams, and the long gauntlet gloves that appeared throughout the collection.

Most of all, it is the evening gowns with their bare backs or strapless bodices, feathery peplums and flowing hemlines, not to mention the refined beading and embroidery, that show that deep at heart, Maier is a couturier.

The minimalist twist on the age-old luxurious styles, all worn with stocking boots or high-heeled multicolored Mary Janes, is what makes them special.

Colors for next winter range from gray, blue, wine red, flesh pink and ivory. Black, as in most of the shows seen on the current runway, is the favored background.

To emphasize the understated feel of the collection, the models wore little makeup and their long hair was demurely pulled back and tied in a chignon.

PUCCI

Pucci designer Peter Dundas returned to the vast archives of fashion house founder Emilio Pucci for next winter's looks — particularly for black and white patterns.

The collection is very sensual, but not as rocker as it has been in past seasons, centering on the interplay between masculine and feminine. The man-tailored jacket is a key wardrobe item.

"There is nothing more seductive than a woman who throws her man's jacket over an evening gown," Dundas said before the show held in the frescoed halls of a central Milan palazzo.

Dundas presented a white tuxedo jacket with black lapels to wear over a simple long gown with transparent panels. He also paired the tuxedo jacket with cropped pants, a look proliferating on the current runway.

On the harder side, there was a black crocodile gown with a revealing slit up the side and long decorated sleeves.

The 40-something Dundas, who joined Pucci in 2008, referred to his Norwegian roots with Nordic evening sweaters in black, white and gray, dripping with silver crystals.

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