Don't expect to be swathed in silk next fall and winter. Designers are reaching for fabrics of a sturdier nature.
Fendi showed an eccentric side, combining wild fur, down-to-business tweed and ephemeral sheer fabrics, sometimes in a single piece.
And materials were the starting point of Prada's collection, from python in boots, caps and coats to fake fur caps and collars and sturdy gabardine outerwear.
Soft women, this won't be your year, at least judging by collections previewed Thursday during Milan fashion week.
Katie Holmes, the actress and wife of Tom Cruise, was on hand for Max Mara's preview. She wore an off-the-shoulder dress, hair pulled back simply for the collection in straightforward palate of gray, cream, beige and camel.
The Max Mara women won't need to worry about the cold. Whether dressed for the evening in a strapless dress, or for work hours in a belted gray leather jacket over paints, the answer is a high fur cowel as a hedge against a chill.
What could be more innocent than an aviator's cap. Pair it with a narrow silhouette dress featuring a pleated skirt, and you start to get an image of sweetly innocent childhood dreams.
Then throw in some python boots, and the dream morphs into Miuccia Prada's fashion vision.
The clothes are about "innocence or freshness," Prada said back stage. "Not a girl dressing like a lady, but a lady getting more innocent."
There were dark double-breasted coats with big buttons, silver or black, belted at the waist. The collar, in nude, or baby pink, matches the aviators' cap, and goggles complete the picture.
Drop-waist dresses feature pleated skirts, red or blue, or geometric designs, checks and squares.
Evening wear included dresses of plastic, transparent scales, in sophisticated combinations like mustard-seed and garnet, paired at times with one of her oversized furry collars _ a sort of surf-and-turf of fashion.
Accessorizing, Prada blurred the line between the clutch _ hers featuring strategic strap that snugly fits the hand _ and handbags, which models held sideways like clutches.
Fendi's look recalls an era when women's daytime clothes were highly structured: tight skirts and tucked-in blouses. But the collection presented by Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi is deconstructed and looser fitting than the girdle-inducing times of yesteryear.
Colors are natural, loden greens, grays and blacks, with accents of orange, green and azure.
The ruffle forms a motif for the collection. It is well-constructed, like an elaborate curl of cloth ribbon candy. It shows up on the bodices of daytime dresses, managing to be both playful and businesslike in swirling loden wool atop a long-sleeve plaid bodice that flows into a gathered black skirt, and more simply in black for a daytime dress.
Fendi combines tufts of sable, fox, chinchilla and mink to create a richly textured look of alternating black, silver and reddish-brown for fur jackets, bodices and scarves.
Evening dresses can be floor length, with silver shoes catching the light as the Fendi woman walks.
As earthy and grounded as the daytime collection, the eveningwear has a touch of magic: translucent sleeves sprinkled with flecks of gold, as if with fairy dust, and a bodice made of a rich mix of furs, as if from some enchanted creature, atop a straight black skirt.
The handbags _ from totes to clutches _ are made from "chameleon leather," which appears to change color with the light.
Don't try to read between the lines of D&G's collection for next fall and winter.
It's all there to see in black-and-white, or pink-and-black, and even yellow-and-black.
D&G appear to have dipped back to the 1980s, and perhaps took some inspiration from their earliest muse, Madonna, for their latest collection.
Madonna's "Vogue" provided the background music for the show _ but the influence of the era that launched both the designing duo and the pop queen hardly needed emphasis.
Colors were techno-bold, and the clothes _ clearly with a young audience in mind _ clung tightly to the models' slight frames: skinny dresses that ended with a sheer, ruffley fabric, tube skirts and tight leggings.
Most of the pieces featured a boggle of letters, perhaps inspired by nonsensical and repetitive keystroking. Don't strain too much to get anything out of it: the letters are an alphabet soup jumble, aimed at having fun, not sending a message.
Eveningwear stays bright, but skirts are long and sheer, recalling something of the prairie skirt of several decades ago, topped with a blouse.
The coup de grace: a herd of long-legged models wearing bright tutus covering the neon spectrum from orange and yellow to green and blue that evoked images of boldly feathered ostriches. Boldly feather ostriches wearing high-top wedged sneakers.