MILAN (AP) — Roberto Cavalli turned up the temperature on Milan Fashion Week with a ring of fire in the center of his tented runway, while fashion newcomers au jour le jour are creating a buzz with their cute puppy obsession.
Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander and Aquilano Rimondi were among the other highlights as Milan Fashion Week continued the fourth day of womenswear previews for next fall and winter.
Bottega Veneta's looks for next winter burst and ripple with kinetic energy.
Creative director Tomas Maier infuses the looks with motion both through the tailoring, including micro folds and loose pleats, as well as with geometric patterns.
Movement is created in tiny pleats in dusty pastels that ripple soothingly along pretty cocktail or party dresses, while geometric patterns in black and white give bold definition to a straight skirt worn with a purple sweater. One dress appears to burst outward from the hip, creating concentric folds that reach out and hug the figure. It comes in a quilted version, as well as tulle and crepe.
The looks are finished in black suede booties that are cut into a spiky silhouette suggestive of flames and which mimic the graphic patterns in some of the apparel. Bottega Veneta's bag for next season has a top handle, with patchworks of color and combinations of materials.
Roberto Cavalli daringly staged his preview around a ring of fire, which provided not only a dramatic backdrop for his hot looks but spread heat through the fashion crowd.
The elegant and often elaborate collection incorporates, according to Cavalli, the femininity of the 1920s and the geometry of the 1930s. Several looks captured best the heat of the venue, including one long gown with the image of flames lapping up the hemline, worn with a red and black fur stole.
Fire extinguishers placed at intervals around the fire ring, which itself encircled a pool of water, ensured the fiery image was never realized.
The looks included heavily beaded dresses that clung seductively to curves, skinny beaded suits and gowns with hemlines ripped into a froth of fringe.
FRONT ROW TESTIMONIALS
British singer Ellie Goulding and actress Samantha Banks chatted together in the Cavalli front row, just days after Cavalli disavowed celebrity testimonials in fashion ahead of his Just Cavalli show.
"He's just been so amazing to me. He's just kind of adopted me the past few of months," Goulding said of Cavalli. "I'm extremely happy to be here.
Tweed over organza, an oversized masculine coat over with a ruffled bustle peeking out, these are the contrasts at the heart of the new collection by Aquilano Rimondi.
The new collection by designers Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi is rich with detail, fur trim, embroidery, contrast piping and steel rose appliques. Yet the overall effect is a wardrobe for real life, simultaneously encompassing the elegant-casual contrast, rather than the more rarified, highly structured and ornate collections of the past.
"Cocooning," Aquilano said is the overall effect, achieved through generous layering, with roomy sweaters or colored fur coats over transparent pleated organza that shimmer elegantly.
FROM EPONYMOUS TO ANONYMOUS
Since Jil Sander left her eponymous brand again last fall, the label has carried on with a team of anonymous designers.
Judging from the preview for next winter's looks, the brand's minimalist DNA remains strong.
The silhouette and lines of the dresses looked exceedingly simple, but then the eye catches folds in the fabric which draws attention up and down the garment, and what emerges, but the form of a cross or a star-burst or a bias-cut wave.
The mood was soothing, the colors the palest monochromes of gray, blue, sage, pink and peach — with favorite black and emerald, a color of the Milan season, projecting more strength.
Nothing says "like me" more urgently than a cute puppy.
The 4-year-old au jour le jour label was born in the social media era, and designers Diego Marquez and Mirko Fontana's obsession with forlorn boxer pups and chipper Chihuahuas is rooted in that reality. The brand's DNA is imbued with repetitive motifs.
The designers focused on the tenderness-inducing cuteness of puppies for the fall winter collection fully exploiting the awareness that "on social networks puppy photos have a huge success of people liking them," Fontana said backstage at the Armani theater, where au jour le jour made its Milan runway debut Saturday.
There was plenty to "like" on the runway. White cat motifs pop out on a purple fur coat. Large pin buttons adorned with fluffy puppies are attached in rows on a coat, worn over a mini-dress in matching print. And needlepoint Chihuahuas grace a sky blue leather miniskirt.
The collection has a 1960s flair, with short babydoll dresses with big bows, blousy tops with elaborate ruffles and straight jumper dresses with faux suspenders imposed graphically.
Fontana, 33, and Marquez, 38, started out as an economist and an engineer, respectively, before joining forces as a design team. The brand, which won acclaim for its signature ruby red lip motif, already has a following in Italy, Korea, Singapore and Beijing, and is soon to enter the United States.
Follow Colleen Barry at www.twitter.com/collbarry