As Milan's fashion week wound up, some themes for next winter have become apparent.
Feathers will be big, colors bold, buttons oversized and sequins everywhere. There's a slight couture feel to the collections, which somehow manage to be both retro and futuristic at the same time.
Designers are favoring a flattering A-line shape, with an accent on hemlines, which are either asymmetrical, lined with fringe, or fluffed with feathers.
Perhaps with warm-weather clients in mind, some in emerging markets like Brazil or India, many furs and jackets were sleeveless _ which looked less cozy on Milan fashinistas on a bitter, rainy Sunday.
DOLCE & GABBANA
Leave it to Mr. Dolce and Mr. Gabbana to turn androgynous into one of the hottest looks on the Milan runway.
The operative word is sensual, the secret a clear distinction between male and female, at least in the clothes.
During Sunday's womenswear show for fall/winter 2011-2012, models wearing pinstriped tailored jackets, white shirts, and low-waisted pants shared the runway with others in diaphanous chiffon gowns with star or musical note prints and body-clinging dresses spiffed up by lace and fur.
This certainly isn't the first time the duo has trotted out man-tailored looks for women, but for this collection they called in tailors to cut the clothes just right. The novelty came in the cutoff sleeves for suit jackets and coats, turning them into elegant vests.
Accessories, too, kept things separate. Shoes were lace-ups in tiger prints, sequins or colored calf for the boy part, while high-heeled pumps and slingbacks decorated with lace and embroidery belonged to the girlie side. Funky derby hats and suspenders lent a masculine touch, in contrast with ultra-feminine star studded earrings and necklaces sparkling with rhinestones.
The myriad of brightly colored sequins and embroidered jewels, which lit up the Dolce&Gabbana evening wear, evoked the fantasy world of a circus.
Missoni has created a dreamlike pastel world for next fall and winter, but has rooted it in reality with edgy leather accessories.
The collection presented Sunday during Milan fashion week is a fantastical flow of color, pinks into coral into salmon, yellow into blue into purple.
Seafoam green seems to come right out of your grandmother's closet _ though she probably doesn't have it in a floor-length reptile leather jacket.
Designer Angela Missoni fueled her imagination with boas that created a cloudlike effect and embroidery that livened up romantic maxi-dresses and gave a personalized feel to trousers.
There's plenty of the family label's intricate knitwear to satisfy aficionados. But Missoni also provide large cableknit sweaters with broad, fantastical crisscrosses, showcasing the fashion house's craftmanship.
The look was mostly flowing, with coats, dresses and skirts skimming the floor, and trousers broad and roomy.
But it was grounded in biker boots in patchwork of snakeskin and suede in colors that varied from orange and pink, to slate and gray, to lilac and aquamarine. Full-length trenches were in snakeskin.
Marni's Consuelo Castiglioni experiments with geometry on two levels in the women's styles she has created for next fall and winter. Central to the look are geometric prints and geometric tailoring.
The starting point for the prints is a graphically bold octagon that's been overlaid to create a pattern, which, from a distance, looks like rows of circular flowers. The pattern was so integral to the collection that it covered the walls and carpeted runway of Sunday's venue.
Castiglioni also plays with more elementary shapes _ triangles, rectangles and squares _ to create alternating stripes of color, and may have even broken out an old Spirograph for a circular pattern.
Marni's asymmetrical hemlines give the look a futuristic feel. For example, the hemline on a long jacket elongates in the back, giving an almost bell-like effect over a straight dress in a matching geometric print that stops just below the knee. The fabric is a dense, double-faced wool crepe.
The look is at times layered, with a fur under a leather jacket, giving just a knee-level peek of a sequined evening dress in black with blue stripes. She also includes capes, one dark with matching pants, and providing glimpses of a black-and-white patterned shirt.
Sleeveless dresses and short-sleeved coats are paired with industrial-size leather gloves, trimmed often with fur. The look is finished with shoes on thick wooden platforms and oversized deco jewelry emphasizing both shape and color.
Laura Biagiotti has always been a big fan of her native Italy.
So it was no surprise _ particularly this year when Italy celebrates 150 years as a nation _ that she came out on the runway wrapped in a cashmere shawl woven in the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag.
The shawl was not created for the anniversary, but is an item the globe-trotting Biagiotti has been carrying with her for the past twenty years. In 1985, she became the first Italian designer to put on a fashion show in Beijing, and seven years later she repeated the first in Moscow.
"I'm convinced that the true gold mine in our country is the 'Made in Italy' label," she told reporters before Sunday's show.
The fall-winter 2011-2012 summed up the best of Biagiotti's knitwear calling card.
This round, the "queen of cashmere" presented cashmere dresses lighter than their chiffon counterparts, fluffy colored furs and shawls that doubled as sweaters.
Biagiotti's signature white next season alternates with cappuccino beige, ruby red and charcoal gray. Her knitwear is decorated with wisps of chiffon, while gold trimming lightens up the evening wear.
AP Writer Colleen Barry contributed.