Muted shades, light, airy fabrics and demure knee-length hemlines have emerged as trends for next spring and summer at Milan Fashion Week.
Perhaps even fashion designers are feeling cowed by the constant grim economic forecasts, but according to the shows Thursday next summer won't be loud and brash. On the contrary, there is something enduring about the collections being previewed in Milan: This is fashion that can transcend not only occassions but seasons, wearing well into the Indian-summer temperatures of fall.
Prada's women don high-heeled shoes decorated with leather flames, a fanciful touch paired with delicate fabrics, ladylike leather handbags and glittering rhinestone jewelery.
The collection was a nostalgic peek at the 1950s, with long, wispy pleated skirts that once might have been worn with saddle shoes, and one-piece cinched swimsuits fit for a beauty queen contestant, worn alone by the bold under coats or with skirts.
Fendi's look for next spring and summer brimmed with fetching feminine details _ pleats, ruffles and swirling stitchwork _ none of it frivolous.
Max Mara offered sporty and yet tailored look just right for the Hamptons crowd.
Breaking the mold was D&G _ Dolce and Gabbana's second line. With a younger audience, the designing duo worked with patterned silk scarves to create bold looks that fit any any seaside destination.
Miuccia Prada dipped into her fantasy land grab bag _ which served her well for menswear in June _ coming up with cartoon prints, wooly rose embroidery and flame-spewing heels.
The main theme was the car, from the motor revving music to the exhaust flame prints and large and small vintage cars, which decorated many of the outfits and handbags.
The outfits were ladylike, with silk pleated skirts and matching pleated tops, demurely printed blouses, and summer coats decorated with wooly roses. A leather pencil skirt embroidered with a large convertible car is sure to be the hit of the season.
The Prada color palette is soft and feminine: yellow, beige, sky blue and wine red, the latter two often combined to create a soft olden days effect.
The outfits all had a proper hemline _ just below or above the knee _ except for a series of chaste beauty queen 1950s swim suits, which translated into trendy day or nighttime silk outfits.
Fendi designers Karl Lagerfeld and Sivlia Fendi Venturini masterfully embedded playful details _ cutout shoulders, cap sleeves over longer sleeves _ into eminently wearable styles that can go from office to leisure to evening.
Colors were mostly muted, with plenty of stripes, in black-and-white or gold-and-white. Even red-and-ecru stripes in tops and skirts, boldly alternating horizontal and vertical, didn't look too loud.
But Lagerfeld couldn't resist playing peacock with a long furry vest that recalls the proud peacock with its green and blue feathers, over a quiet Key lime green dress.
Pleated skirts were full and fell modestly to the knee. They also featured slits for a sexy take on an otherwise serious office look. In fact, the collection is full stitching wizardry that allows the eye to feast without ever being overwhelmed.
The look is completed with big butterfly-shaped sunglasses.
Max Mara is known for its stylish, easy-to-wear clothes. The brand's summer collection with its comfy combination of jersey and leather, its pale palette, and mildly sexy silhouette, is sure to be a best-seller on the beaches and boulevards alike.
Jumpsuits in ribbed jersey caress but never grab the body, while bomber jackets fashioned in shiny silk or glove soft leather acquire a feminine touch. A cardigan blazer over a pair of leather shorts would be perfect for a day at the country club.
A simple jersey knit dress or a pair of silk pedal pushers paired with a leather top, worn with high platform sandals, completed the warm weather look.
The palette was muted ranging from desert beige to tea brown to a pale mint green with a glint of gold for evening.
In a season where geometric patterns are proving to be the new trend, Max Mara made heavy use of color bands, all the more evident by the combination of fabric and leather.
The most innovative outfit seen on the runway thus far was the collection's trench coat dress, short sleeved but complete with all the popular raincoat details.
D&G attempted a response to a burning fashion question: how many ways can one wear the humble scarf?
Start with a tight minidress that appeared to be fashioned out of four distinct scarves tied on the side and overlapping _ though they are expertly stitched together.
Then there was a loose blouse over a short skirt, a bandeau top paired with balloon shorts and short one-piece playsuits, and long skirts with handkerchief hemlines.
For evening, Dolce and Gabbana added sequins, and for relaxed afternoons there were touches of denim.
Colors, of course, were bold and clashing. The collection was decidedly summer and fun, and light enough to pack off for a weekend at the beach or fancy port.
D&G even made platform shoes using scarves as straps. Broad-brimmed raffia hats tied with scarves protected wearers from the sun.
Perhaps the scarves were a way of bidding adieu to D&G fans. This was the last standalone preview for the second line, which going forward will be incorporated into the main collection.
Fashion Writer Daniela Petroff contributed.