MILAN (AP) — If even Giorgio Armani has a negligee-inspired dress, then baby doll looks are definitely a trend.
Armani's take featured a layer of black sheer pleating over a dark floral pattern, finished with poufy translucent shoulders. Baby-doll looks are hot this season on the runways at Milan Fashion Week, with a parade of lacy eyelet and pleated mini-dresses, many featuring feathery touches.
The flighty, breezy looks are often accompanied by sturdy shoes, balancing a young women's desire to be sure-footed with her more romantic side.
Highlights from Friday's womenswear previews for next spring and summer, with shows from Armani, Diesel Black Gold and Versace:
Tennis stars Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic took their game to Milan Fashion Week, taking front row seats Friday at the Giorgio Armani show.
Williams, wearing a sleeveless pearl-beaded top that showed off her powerful arms and high-waisted black trousers, gushed over Armani, saying his creations are "so amazing, so exciting."
She described her own style as classic "but I always add a little bit of a young fun trend to it."
Djokovic and his wife Jelena hosted a gala dinner earlier in the week to raise money to support early childhood education in disadvantaged communities. The event was attended by Anna Wintour and Armani's niece Roberta Armani, who won bids to play tennis with Serena Williams in a matchup dubbed "The Queen of Tennis vs. The Queens of Fashion."
Donatella Versace is out to empower women, with the soundtrack for the runway show for spring/summer 2017 urging woman to "take the leap. If we do nothing, we get nothing."
The designer dedicated this season's runway show "to the women making changes."
And she got a little help from friends Naomi Campbell and Gigi Hadid, who did turns on the runway. Campbell looked fierce in a red-white-and-blue track jacket and matching high-slit skirt with lace up boots. Hadid sported a mini dress with lace details with a technical overcoat and high-heeled sandals.
The Versace collection for next spring and summer focused on sportswear, which the designer called "the future of fashion." Versace has taken on the challenge to make sportswear both luxurious and glamorous.
The looks promoted power and action, without being overtly athletic. The colors were strong hues of blue, white, green, red and black, and stripes were prevalent, often on the diagonal. Skirts and tops retained their femininity with vertical stripes of color dangling like pretty ribbons. Versace's body conscious knits clung to the figure, and showed off the midriff. Technical fabric rushed around the figure, revealing leg with a zip and tightening with draw strings.
Giorgio Armani seems to have harnessed celestial energy for his next collection, an ode to multi-culturalism.
The silhouette was soft, swathing the Armani woman in sarongs, fringe and tassels. The prints, in deep blue and black, contributed to the mood with a swirling effect. A crystal encrusted evening dress recalled the night sky.
Armani has applied hippie and ethnic touches to his classic tailoring this round. A notch-collar jacket defies convention with a cascade of fringe. Tassels swing freely from a belt, layering a short skirt. Head scarves wrapped like turbans complete the look, offering a slightly exotic vibe.
The designer bared the leg with gathered shorts that are more bloomer than Bermuda, cut from sheer fabrics for lightness. The shape was echoed in a short bubble dress.
Armani dubbed the collection "Charmani," defining it as "the lightness of the body, seductively revealing itself, finding a new balance between discipline and freedom."
FASHION CALENDAR SHIFTS
Armani gave up his position as Milan Fashion Week anchor this year, ceding the last day of previews on Monday to a cadre of young designers.
The Milan fashion stalwart has long rued showing on the last day, a sacrifice to make sure that top fashion editors who are eager to rush off to Paris for the next round of fashion previews stay until the end in Milan.
This is Armani's season for calendar experimentation.
Emporio Armani, the designer's line for youthful dressers, is decamping for Paris this year to mark the redesign of the brand's St. Germain store.
The Giamba girl may make her home in Milan, but she is equally at ease in Paris or Los Angeles. She hops about Europe on low-cost airlines, waking up in one city and going to sleep in another. And she dreams of the desert.
Designer Giambattista Valli shows his couture line in Paris, and this collection for the Giamba line launched in Milan several seasons ago has couture vibe that is urban.
A desert scene print on tank tops fulfills the Giamba girl's romantic notions as she trods the metropolitan landscape, and a tiger motif, provocatively placed on the front of leggings, makes clear she is to be reckoned with. Her fascination with the American West is confirmed with dresses with a frilly version of a cowboy shirt-bodice that falls right into long fringe.
Lace and tulle fill her wardrobe, but she tops the frillier dresses with boxy jackets. An eyelet mini-skirt with scarf hemline was paired with a matching ruffled crop top decorated with butterfly pins. Many of the looks are transparent, and while designer Giambattista Valli flouts modesty on the runway, there's nothing a slip can't handle.
A final styling point: metallic lines on the model's foreheads, arching, circular and straight.
Designer Andreas Melbostad created pretty, utilitarian looks combining frills with military detailing for the Diesel Black Gold label.
The duality is underlined by the color choices: dusty pink and faded olive.
Ruffled baby doll dresses in military shades were paired with sneaker-boots, while pink high-waisted trousers were worn with bra tops. Hair was braided and collected into buns for a look of fierce femininity — think Katniss of "The Hunger Games" franchise.
Jeans had eyelet panels and lace trimming for a romantic effect, while a plethora of drawstrings swinging from jackets promised secret purposes.
Gladiator sandals and sneakers added to the warrior spirit.