MILAN (AP) — Model Bianca Balta won applause of approval as she walked down the Dolce&Gabbana runway in an advanced stage of pregnancy. It was part of the designing duo's early Mother's Day present to women, a collection dedicated to moms.
Elsewhere around Milan, the 1970s got a revival by the young design team Au Jour Le Jour, Missoni reached out for a younger audience and Giorgio Armani launched what may become his "It" bag.
Highlights from shows Sunday, the fifth day of Milan Fashion Week, include Dolce&Gabbana, Marni, Missoni and Salvatore Ferragamo.
AH, LA MAMMA
Dolce&Gabbana paid tribute to motherhood in full flower, sending an expectant mother, model Bianca Balti, swathed in pink down the runway against a backdrop of 11 mothers and their children.
Maternity's bloom set off a wave of applause among the usually unflappable fashion crowd — which excited one baby on stage to start clapping himself.
The theme-hewing designers are dedicating next winter's men's and women's collections to mothers in an effort, according to the show notes, to allow "fashion to be seen as an extension of where one comes from."
The menswear collection, presented last month, looked up the generational chart to grandmothers, while this season focused on young mothers — a group that perhaps does not get enough attention in a country with among the lowest birthrates in the Western world. And they sure made motherhood appealing.
Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana kept the shapes simple, with flared skirts, wrap coats, shift dresses and some hip minis, and incorporated all of the brand's sensual elements, including lace, sequins and appliques.
The designers endearingly turned drawings by their nieces and nephews into a colorful fabric for flared skirts, strapless dresses and scarves, scrawled with a child's expressions of affection, including "You are the most beautiful mother in the world."
The mother-pairings gave a brief window on the designers' children's line. A radiant model in a floral skirt and black sweater adorned with a red rose — a recurring motif — held her squirming infant in a Dolce&Gabbana vest and trouser outfit, and a mother and daughter sashayed in matching pink dresses.
Handbags were larger-than-usual carryalls, keeping in mind everything mothers must tote along. And models wore bejeweled headphones, considered by the designers to be a modern crown. The label's traditional finale was entirely in black, including some pretty negligees, because mothers need some down time, too.
MISSONI TAPS A NEW VEIN
Missoni has tapped a hip vein for next winter's looks.
The family-run brand beloved for its zig-zag patterns appears to be reaching out for the younger set with a new marbled pattern, suggestive of veins and hinting of tattoos, that gave the looks an electric pulse, along with edgier styling and funkier footwear.
The T-shirt dresses of the finest knit were snug fitting, often with athletic or asymmetrical necklines, and typically worn over body suits in complementary but contrasting patterns — including black-and-white patterns resembling lightning flashes. Designer Angela Missoni elaborated the looks with metallic yarns for a very urban street look. Colors ran from bright shades of purple, red and orange to flatter shades of light blue, gray and pink.
Footwear included metallic-heeled boots slashed across the foot, pointy-toed shoes and closed-back clogs.
Marni's woman for next winter is a regal warrior, hailing from a region that stretches from the Nordic lands to the Mongolian plateau.
Creative director Consuelo Castiglioni kept the silhouette long, centering the collection around the coat, which formed the basis also of dresses and tunic tops worn with flared pants and neat skirts. All of the pieces shared a common architecture, long slits, that created an elegant air and allowed Castiglioni to play with the dramatic belting. On some coats, the thick leather belts ran inside the rear of the garment, leaving the back to flow as if a royal train.
Even when sleeveless, she is undeterred by the cold: panels of rich fur keep the core warm.
Bags were worn cross-body — suggesting a nomadic lifestyle — with thick straps identical to the belts. Colors and jewelry came from the natural world: brown, black and charcoal with dashes of red, powder blue and pale pink, while earrings were fashioned from stones into swinging orbs or discs that graphically encircled the lobe.
Footwear included open-toe boots with chunky heels and a serrated pavement-gripping rubber sole.
Will this be Giorgio Armani's "It" bag?
Armani has launched a new handbag, dubbed Le Sac 11, and being sold exclusively for its launch at hand-picked boutiques, one in Milan and one in Paris.
The roomy handbag with double handles and a zipper close is easy to access and meant for everyday use. Armani's approach was correspondingly practical. "Above all, it needs to hold things well. It should be somewhat soft, but rigid enough to stand up on its own," the designer said this week.
The bag was unveiled over champagne at the flagship Antonia boutique, where the bag will be sold exclusively until April. Besides the main line, Antonia has a special edition of 12 in each of the three sizes in an exclusive color, cognac, and upgraded with leather lining and platinum-colored fittings.
"He liked our way of moving in the market, very soft, without yelling. Well, yelling, but not in a loud voice," said Antonia Giacinti, whose boutique has the exclusive launch in Milan.
While many design houses have a must-have bag, big-hit accessories have so far eluded Armani. The designer expressed frustration earlier in the week that department stores eager to have his ready-to-wear lines are more ambiguous about the placement of his accessories. The new marketing strategy around Le Sac 11 may just crack that nut. After the exclusive Milan and Paris runs, the bag will later be available in select Armani stores around the world.
And the name? It's pronounced in French, Le Sac Onze, the 11 Bag, after the date of Armani's birth, July 11.
Massimiliano Giornetti projected geometric precision in his collection for Salvatore Ferragamo.
The silhouette was long and lean, with coat dresses punctuated by a distinctive zig-zag belt that seemed inspired by origami. Athletic stripes accented lapels and skirt hemlines, but any severity was offset by bright concentric circle resin buttons.
The complex geometry of the collection came through in the asymmetrical jacket cuts, the color block dresses and the textured patchwork of mink intarsia vests. Ribbed ponchos bounced invitingly with each step, animating the looks.
Sandals had sculpted heels, and some were covered in fur.
Au Jour Le Jour's design team Mirko Fontana and Diego Marquez dipped into a 1970s time capsule for their new Disco Queen collection inspired by Bianca Jagger's dancing days.
The glammed-up looks include leopard striped Lycra leotards -- aerobics anyone? -- high-waist jeans embellished with crystals, a frothy purple fur coat fit for a dancing queen and a metallic-tile dress inspired by the Rubik's Cube. The social network-savvy label's new memes are lightning bolts and stars.
Models carried Au Jour Le Jour's must-have bag of the season: a three-in-one clutch of vinyl-record-shaped pouches that can be detached and carried separately.