MILAN (AP) — Designers are touting the "wear-ability" of their collections previewed for next winter during Milan Fashion Week.
While such admissions could invite critical comments about the state of the fashion industry, it signals more than anything a return to basics — looks that satisfy the wearer, first, and then the beholder.
Some highlights from Saturday's shows on the fourth day of Milan womenswear previews for next fall and winter:
This is how Ermanno Scervino freshens up lace: He invents a painstaking new technique and then wraps one of the fashion scene's hot young models in one of his creations. And he lets her keep the pink hair when she walks the runway.
"I wanted something more modern," the designer said backstage. "Because when you do a lot of lace, you worry a bit about excess."
Pyper America Smith strode the runway in an ephemeral long-sleeve white lace gown with feathery wisps along the neckline and a gathered waistline that cascaded into rows of transparent lace.
Scervino applied a macrame technique to create his new lace in the image of a mosaic. Silhouettes of his lacey creations varied from a sophisticated copper-colored dress that hugged the bodice before flowing out into a full skirt, a swingy yellow afternoon dress with a thick belt and a Victorian-inspired cut that brought to mind a cathedral with a high spikey neck and defined shoulders.
"It was complicated to wrap a woman in a mosaic," he said. "I am of the idea that beauty is the most important thing."
The designer said his goal was to create a collection that is easy to wear, day or evening. For day, he created skirts suits out of masculine tweed suits and coats embroidered with jewels, a man's jacket tailored into a dress and form-hugging monochromatic bodysuits with a bow tied around the neck.
Overcoats included military looks with slightly oversized buttons and epaulets made out of fur, while leopard coats were actually made out of jacquard. To unleash one's inner czarina, there were detachable fox hoods in red and white.
UNDER THE SKIN
Rodolfo Paglialunga has gotten under the skin of the Jil Sander label.
Paglialunga said his fourth womenswear collection at the fashion house is his favorite to date. And he took the looks to a new level with clingy designs that maintained the brand's minimalistic roots.
"I put my touch on this collection more than the others. I feel more comfortable," the designer said backstage. Fittingly, he staged the runway show to haunting music from the "Under the Skin" 2013 movie soundtrack.
Ruching gave a sense of kinetic movement to body-clinging monochromatic dresses and skirts that finished below the knee. A white blouse tucked into a high-waist skirt that reached to the bosom for a one-piece effect, while an asymmetrical dress balanced a bare shoulder and arm with an elongated sleeve.
Paglialunga added drama to the collection with netting or light chainmail along the hemline of knitwear dresses, and scratches of silver along trouser legs, catching the eye with each step. Jackets and coats were tied in the back, keeping in place a series of pleats.
The dress silhouette was often clingy while the coats were more ample than fitted. Trouser lengths varied, including mid-calf hemlines. The color palette was sober gray and black with some white and metallic shades of pink, gold and silver.
Tomas Maier's collection for Bottega Veneta turned on subtlety, with a restricted set of accessories providing key accents to the long, elegant silhouette.
Skinny belts crisscrossed at the buckle to accentuate the leanness of the looks, while shiny metallic shoes popped out of the dragging hemlines of wide-legged pants.
Monochrome black or white cashmere suits were accented with long, slim scarves, a leopard print trench coat or a sturdy lavender or turquoise tie string bag in Napa leather.
Knitwear tops and dresses presented a sportier facade, while Maier created knit bras out of matching fabric worn overtop for a neat camouflage. Dresses tended to be sleeveless wool shifts, while tiny sequins gave sparkle to plaid overcoats that fastened with a diagonal strap across the lapels.
"It's all wearable. That's why we make clothes," Maier said in his notes. "It's not for show, it's for people."
For evening, Maier overlaid simple floral dresses with transparent black lace, ribbon or pleats. Jewelry with green jade, malachite and fluorite stones finished the looks.
He also offered a Bottega Veneta style tip: Knot a long, skinny scarf at the neck and tuck into a thin belt for a sophisticated look.
Long-time Moschino creative director Rossella Jardini is back creating fashion, now under her own name.
The unveiling of the Bohemian looks, with models lounging in a well-appointed hotel bar as guests nibbled canapés and sipped champagne, came on an auspicious date and in an auspicious place for Jardini.
The date, February 27, was the birth date of the late Franco Moschino, whose aesthetic Jardini reinterpreted for two decades. And the place, the Grand Hotel Et De Milan, once Giuseppe Verdi's home, was also the venue for her first fashion show in the 1970s, held in the suite once occupied by Verdi himself.
Her eponymous collection was born out of Jardini's belief that "clothes are not designed to follow trends, but to be worn with pleasure."
The looks were full of flourish, rich in ruffles, mixing and matching patterns and colors for a layered look fitting of stylish post-war intellectuals gathering in a salon. Robes became tailored suits with wide legs, and jumpers were fashioned from woolen gingham. Models wore silken scarves tied on their heads, and dripped in jeweled rings, necklaces and brooches.
"It's a collection done by a woman for the other women," she said at the presentation. "When a woman makes a dress, she thinks about how it feels to wear. When it is done by a man, even a talented one, sometimes they don't respect female desires. And they do something super extravagant, then they come out in their little blue pull over and their jeans."
Philipp Plein's superhero models made an entrance inside three fire-spouting, open-sided tractor trailers in the cavernous warehouse venue.
The looks for next season are all leather and lace. Models strode out in leather jumpsuits and mini-dresses crafted with armor-like scales, ready for battle. They were followed by models in micro-mini dresses with lace panels, worn with fishnet stockings or thigh-high boots. There were also colored furs and gold lame leggings and bomber jackets.
The evening's musical guest, Chris Brown, made a similarly dramatic entrance for his post-runway show performance.
Japanese designer Mitsuru Nishizaki made his Milan runway debut for his Ujoh label, joining the ranks of young designers being promoted by the Italian Fashion Chamber.
Giorgio Armani lent his theater for the premier.
Ujoh made its runway debut in Japan three years ago, and its 37-year-old creator received an invitation to show in Milan after participating in the Fashion Market Hub last September. Nishizaki previously worked with Yohji Yamamoto.
The collection Saturday had an urban feel, with a voluminous, layered silhouette and somber color palate offset by light blue, lavender and white.
The designer said the collection departs from men's tailoring, and there were oversized men's shirts laced up the sides and tucked into a billowing skirt. A quilted jacket gathered at the hips could double as a dress.
Dresses tended to be jumpers with layers of pleats and lace, worn with chunky sweaters sporting fringe on the sleeves.
Paula Masera and Cristina Jaleru contributed to this report.