MILAN (AP) — Femininity is getting a rethink in Milan.
Designers are incorporating more masculine tailoring, while giving a contemporary edge to normally girly touches like bows, ruffles, lace and, yes, polka dots. Among the runway trends during Milan Fashion Week, in its fourth day Saturday, are silken blouses tied with an off-skew bow around the neck.
Highlights from Saturday's shows, including Bottega Veneta, Roberto Cavalli, Jil Sander and Pucci:
BOTTEGA VENETA POP ART
Colors popped at Bottega Veneta: Emerald green, teal, yellow, russet, violet and orange, matching in tone and intensity the bold polka-dot patterns that dominated the runway for the first part of the show.
The repetitive dotting in contrasting colors would transpose easily into a Roy Lichtenstein painting — but the women wearing Tomas Maier's creations show none of the existential distress that the pop artist normally portrayed.
She is confident in polka-dot tunics in teal or emerald green with a contemporary neck line that flips over to reveal contrasting colors. From bold, the looks grew more pretty with overlays of delicate black or rust lace over colorful dresses, and Maier maintained the contemporary edge with transparent panels in overcoat that become a show-window of sorts to the eye-popping color of the daywear underneath. Capes had a trapezoidal shape, offset by streaks of color.
Maier anchored the collection with a pair of black suits set off by a crinkled silk scarf twisted around the neck — a stylistic gesture that conveys what Maier means by a "nonchalant sense of style."
Jil Sander designer Rodolfo Paglialunga's first winter womenswear collection for the brand put the coat at front and center — keeping the lines very long.
"Jil Sander represents a little bit of the elegant world for me, and that's why I wanted to do this long silhouette," Paglialunga said backstage after the show.
The collection puts its focus on the basics: pants, footwear and coats. Belted overcoats are worn casually over flared trousers. Dresses and tunics were based on the overcoat form, with big pockets and lean lines, adhering to the brand's minimalist roots. Shorter jackets were worn with cropped trouser-skirts.
Geometric lines running diagonally or along garment edges underscored the discipline of the pieces.
What frivolity there was came in the form of color — bright orange booties or yellow knee boots — and subtle detailing like an orderly ruffle peeking out from a neckline.
Paglialunga called it "that touch of frivolity in a garment that isn't so frivolous. A little delicateness. It was a touch of femininity."
For Paglialunga, it's normal for women to wear men's trousers, jackets and shirts.
"You need to know what to add on to make it more confident and elegant," he said.
KEEPIN' IT SEXY
Roberto Cavalli isn't about to give up his perch as designer to the sex bombs, no matter the trends around him and no matter what happens after the sale of the brand that has been showing in Milan for 20 years.
His collection for next winter was unapologetically sexy, from the exotic print mini-dress beneath a fur-lined overcoat to the last plisse gown with cutout diamond-shapes accentuating the waistline.
Few do red carpet gowns with more billow and bluster, and the newest creation comes in either a halter top or with feminine, blousy sleeves. The two-tone gown fades from powder blue to rock 'n' roll purple, or blue into rust for a psychedelic sunset.
Cavalli and his wife, Eva Dueringer, the driving forces behind the company, gave a quick wave to the crowd after the show —and not their usual full runway strut.
Cavalli is in the final stages of talks to sell a majority stake in the brand he founded and forged into one of the world's best-known brands, favorites of such stars as Sharon Stone, and what role he will have under the new ownership is unclear.
CEO Daniele Corvasce told The Associated Press that Cavalli will stay on in the role of founding shareholder. But that doesn't make clear what his creative role may be, something that has been gaining attention amid reports that other designers may be brought on board by the new owners.
"We will make announcements as soon as we have news or something to communicate," Corvasce said.
With the negotiations entering due diligence, the sale could be completed in the coming weeks.
"I hope that I can rest," Cavalli told the ANSA news agency before his show.
Even Ermanno Scervino, known for his prowess dressing sensual women, says he likes to play with gender identity in his designs -- without ever blurring the lines.
Scervino dipped into the male fabric playbook and deployed a macro black-and-white houndstooth for coats, dresses and even as accents. There was a skirt and jacket ensemble with a sequined black top, a striking coat with an asymmetrical shawl collar and an overcoat with red sequin appliques over the black-and-white repeating pattern.
Houndstooth has never been so pretty, and was called on to lend drama to a more ethnically suggestive coat and an Asian-inspired red silk dress.
EVA IN THE STARS
And out of nowhere one model carried an aura of knowing worldliness. She stopped and smiled knowingly for the cameras. Ah, that's super model Eva Herzegova walking for Pucci designer Peter Dundas in a velvet jacket embroidered in gold with zodiac signs over a long ruffley black dress.
Dundas, a Sagittarius, sought to embrace the unknown with the Zodiac-themed show, and some pieces, like long velvet coat over a zodiac printed dress, looked downright wizardly. "In fashion we are so busy managing everything we do. We can't always control things and sometimes wonderful things happen when you can't control them," Dundas said backstage. "Leave it to the stars."
Dundas created magic with silhouettes so long models looked like they were walking on stilts under their velvet palazzo pants, accented by bags with fringe so long that it's probably time for a trim. The eclectic collection also included eye-popping mini-dresses of black and white optical patterns, paired with matching maxi-boots, and striking gowns of wrapped ribbon.
Gone is the opulent Aquilano -Rimondi of not so faraway yesteryear. The collection that the designing duo Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi presented was more somber, edgy and urban than in the past. The main look was a deconstructed suit that became drop-waist dresses, coats and jumpers, decorated by the strange bedfellows of metallic eyelets and silver sequins, lending a tinge of glitz to the industrial edge. The pair belted their looks near the bustline, giving a faux empire waist.