Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Best Looks from Milan and London - Spring 2011

Giorgio Armani

Inspired by the Tuareg of Sahara, Giorgio Armani decided to forgo color save for one—blue, which he worked in several beautiful, deep shades.

In lesser hands, a single-color choice could spell 'snooze,' but at Armani, this just called attention to the luxury of gorgeous fabrics, Italian tailoring and his embellishments.

He mixed silhouettes, from layered dresses and skirts (sometimes worn over pants) to sophisticated blouses tucked into cropped pants and accented with an array of bold jewelry.

Startlets take note: Evening is strictly elegant in midnight blue silks with architectural details. A folded bodice here, a sweetheart neckline anchored with a scorpion brooch, a simple strapless shape.

It's testament to the power of Armani that in a season where the pendulum swings between a new minimalism and wild and walky color, he follows his own beat.

Roberto Cavalli

How else to celebrate your 40th anniversary than to make a runway statement that perfectly sums up what you’re all about? Roberto Cavalli did just that, showing a spring collection that had all the hippie elements he loves (fringe!) with the sexed-up glamour he has made a career on.

He did a parade of long, layered dresses in a pale neutral palette. The details were different on each, though. Feather fringe here, a laced bodice there, sleeves, shredded sleeves, bared midriff, deep V cleavage. You get the steamy picture.

Cavalli’s girls were the rocker look he has spent decades perfecting. These ladies have the wispy spirit of Haight-Ashbury bohemians which, translated for the luxury client, means tons of intricate beadwork, fringe, tassels and hip-slung silhouettes.

Cavalli is also the king of animal prints. Here, he saved them for a group of seriously sexy dresses that billowed out becomingly and added a visual counterpoint to the soft colors preceding.

This was a terrific way to celebrate one of fashion’s most colorful characters, a man who is truly an original. It was pure Cavalli.

Salvatore Ferragamo

The name Salvatore Ferragamo has come to mean unrivaled luxury. And for good reason. Spring was a rich, island-hopping affair in a sandy palette left one feeling distinctly beach-y.

The abundance of shorts, bikini tops, crochet looks and bare midriffs evoked images of yachters who spend their summers (and beyond) sailing between beautiful islands, stepping on shore to buy a statement cuff or strappy sandal. Even the suits came in a sun-kissed yellow or ocean blue hue.

Richer, deeper blues were introduced late via bikinis, maillots and loose shirts and voluminous skirts.

This was evening's palette, in fact—a series of billowing skirts bikini-like tops, as if one rose out of the water, threw on a skirt and some lipstick before dining under the stars on champagne and glamour.

Dolce & Gabbana

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana know sex, from the overtly kinky kind to the delicately innocent sort, as seen in full bloom in their spring collection. It was as if a young bride opened her wedding trousseau and unfolded one lacy nothing after another in virginal white, with a few odd black pieces (she yearns to be sophisticated) and floral or animal print (for when she leaves the bedroom on her honeymoon).

The abundance of white laces never really got monotonous thanks to the breadth of silhouette and style, from babydolls, sweaters, blouses, and longer, pretty day dresses to delicate underpinnings — bloomers, camis, and that sort.

And as a nod to their current ad poster child, Madonna, there were black underpinnings with more obvious sexy bent, though they never tread into trashy area.

They toyed with different silhouettes, both full skirted and layered to demurely below the knee and slim-slim-slim.

For evening, they simply added jewels and embroidery, keeping well within the virgin bride motif. No matter where you may be on that scale — bride or not, innocent or not — there was something beautiful for everyone.


Consuelo Castiglioni's Marni was a mix of athleticism and that kooky yet wonderful sense of color and print that she's known for. Starting with the leather scuba caps that topped every model, she showed spliced fabrics sewn into boxy shapes that echoed their inspiration — scuba suits.

But this wasn't about black and gray looks. Not at Marni. This meant interesting color-blocked combos and in some cases, florals or abstract prints.

Even a pair of bicycle-meets-diving pants were paired with a blush dress that would look just as great on its own. It was paired with one of Castiglioni's beautiful bags, this season done in woven leathers.

While she layed the sporty concept on thick in places, some looks have the kind of citified polish that works on any kind of girl who enjoys an interesting print and offbeat shape.

For evening, the designer took those shapes and simply covered them in palettes — a cool effect on color-blocked tunics.


There's the luxe, understated '70s that so many designers have mined this season. And then there's Angela Missoni's bold, all-out, freewheeling '70s. And it must count for something that Missoni was actually around then, so it speaks with some authority.

To that end, spring was a colorful mélange of influences (South American, African, classic Italian, etc.) that culminated in a plethora of zigzagging patterns and silhouettes.

These might not be the most obviously, understandably flattering shapes, but nothing a cinched belt couldn't turn into something more body conscious for the modern hippie.

The house's signature zigzag adorned every sort of silhouette and gave them all a well-traveled feel. Like you found a really beautiful handmade blanket in South America and turned into a skirt that everyone asks you about.

In a season where so many designers pulled back the reins on color and pattern, Angela Missoni...well, she went for it with gusto.

Emporio Armani

Giorgio Armani hosted a mammoth Emporio Armani collection — 80 looks. Yet through it all, he kept a razorlike focus on a kind of piled-on tailoring, emphasizing suits, skirts, and dresses.

He started with an icy palette of grays, silvers, and blacks. He toyed with a louche moment (best seen in a slouchy pair of trousers).

Armani's forte is suits, especially those for evening. This time around, he showed them with drawstring waists that added a cool casualness to the lineup.

Several pieces were layered over a slinky jersey mesh that was a fixture throughout, as were the chunky disc necklaces.

He relented on the gray neutrals for a finale of pink, swingy dresses and silk short suits.

Emilio Pucci

Peter Dundas channeled rock stars for spring, specifically the bohemians of the '60s and '70s. Head scarfs included.

Outside of the flowing shapes — of which there were plenty — he did those low-slung hip-hugging pants complemented with poet blouses and skinny blazers. Those hip-huggers also showed up as short shorts, also worn with said blouses and jackets.

Dundas showed trippy prints in the lineup, accenting deep-V chiffon dresses, some sheer, some spangled with sequins and ethnic embroideries.

He balanced the hippie tendencies (like crochets) with a dark palette and a sexy edge, which he worked in a revealing blouse and pants combo...

...And his vision of evening — sultry and sexy.


Anna Molinari's Blumarine started with a pink cheetah tunic over camel cheetah pants in flowy fabrics. What followed was of the same mind, just sexed-up in a few spots.

These animal prints were shown in any number of silhouettes, from short and breezy to long and voluminous. A shape, as it were, for any kind of girl. Granted, you gotta love cheetah.

A pink or aqua butterfly print did emerge midway — a clear indicator that Molinari is letting her girlishness fly. And that, really, is what her legions of fans love her for.

There was a '70s ease and flyaway quality to the longer gowns that fluttered like those butterfly wings printed on them.

Molinari's finale, though, was unbridled sex — and we recommend a serious ab routine to pull off the long-sleeved, belly-baring whisper of a blouse and sheer bellbottoms. In cheetah, of course.

Max Mara

Max Mara's greatest talent is subtext. Everything it does has an undertone of sex appeal. Whether it's in the cinched waist of a classic trench...

...Or the sheerness of a long-sleeved blouse tucked into silky palazzo pants that start out supremely tailored and end in one fluid movement. This mix of tailoring and fluidity played out through the entire collection in smart, sophisticated separates in muted tones or vibrant yellow, orange, or purple.

Silhouettes were ultra-slim, if not skinny, like cropped cigarette pants teamed with a baseball T-shirt. Simple in theory, but beautifully executed. The design team added such polish to the terrific lineup of tops, suits, coats, and little dresses.

For evening, he kept the same lean lines, just longer, and added in a shock of color — banana yellow, Day-Glo orange, and a purple crush.

This being Max Mara, though, the finale — a white tux jacket and loose pants — was totally true to form.

Bottega Veneta

Luxe, sporty, and effortlessly cool. That's usually Tomas Maier's M.O. Spring was no different, barring a few embellished moments that fit seamlessly into his citified, super-chic collection.

The all-black opener was marked by simple sheaths with subtle swing and shirtdresses with sheer panels, but nothing so obvious you couldn't wear it to work (maybe with a tank underneath).

Black segued into steel grays and louche day dresses, jumpsuits, and suits, all accented with those signature Bottega leather bags and either simple strappy heels or, surprise, thick leather sandals.

Maier exercised his finely tuned eye for understated sexiness in a series of louche suits, including one sizzling all-white shorts look that, one could argue, works for evening.

Evening, in fact, was nothing more dramatic than a handful of beautiful, beige dresses. No bells or whistles necessary
here. Just gorgeous craftsmanship.


Donatella Versace knows sex appeal. The flashy sort of va-va-voom Versace used to be known for has given way to a sleek, refined, totally powerful sexiness as witnessed in the ultra-body-con collection Donatella presented for spring.

She started with a handful of white '60s silhouettes accented with yellow or red piping and complemented with some curvy Mod shoes that had accessories editors all atwitter. Literally.

Color came via splices of multicolored stripes or pops of all-orange or all-electric blue looks. She introduced a Courrèges moment via cutouts and bare midriffs in trim tops and pencil skirts or fitted sheaths. Every few looks she snuck in the house's signature Greek key pattern.

But with a front row that included January Jones, let's get to that red carpet. Here, Donatella is unrivaled, from the nude dress with a beautiful lacelike motif...

...To the fringed long gowns she ended with. Those strict-sexy bodices say Oscars to us.

Gianfranco Ferré

Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi had a lot on their minds. The day of their presentation, Gianfranco Ferré, for whom they design, was up for sale. Actually, an almost two-year bidding war was wrapping up. It's to their credit that they put forth a focused, if brief, collection.

They kept things short and sweet, tailored and with a bit of '60s inflection, like a mod shift dress with alluring sheer paneling.

Those clean lines helped draw focus to some terrific detailing, like sequined peekaboo embroidery.

Those sequins showed up in a series of final evening looks that were covered in the stuff and color-blocked. Here, too, the silhouettes were brief and leg-baring.

They dropped the hem, though, on a handful of sexy gowns with waist cutouts trimmed with braid.


Veronica Etro, like everyone in her family, loves color, print, and anything that looks and feels like it came from someplace else — Morocco, India, Italy, Greece. From there, they take their palette and print cues and craft it together in collections that have a sense of wanderlust.

Etro designed with a '70s sensibility — loose, flowing, breezy. As oxymoronic as it sounds, there were elegant, chic muumuus, ankle-length skirts, and fluttering tops, some that looked like handkerchiefs sewn together.

Riffing on a tribal theme, she worked earthy colors in graphic prints, balancing them with spare shapes and complemented with beaded platforms.

This global spirit translated in more spare looks, like a lean cream suit. Its printed blouse was the only embellishment.

For evening, she pulled together these far-flung inspirations in a gold mesh and black-and-white patterned tunic that was a mix of East, West, North, and South.


Creative Director Rosella Jardini remains true to Moschino's whimsical roots. She mixes that signature Milanese tailoring with a sense of "Oh, let's not take ourselves too seriously." For spring, that translated in a Big Tex-Mex mash-up. Replete with 10-gallon hats.

Flippy polka-dotted skirts, coats, and puffy blouses had a certain all-American spirit, one that might be seen more as a dramatization of American archetypes. But there were moments where pretty, charming dresses for anyone popped up, like a Mexican-inspired dress, black sheaths, and a very ladylike skirt suit.

Colorful blue and red separates dominated — high-waisted cropped pants, frilly dresses, boxy jackets, and ribbon-wrapped heels.

There was definitely a youthful spirit to the collection, but with some artful styling, a pretty printed dress with a full skirt could work for anyone who loves color and print.

Spring 2011 was classic Moschino, especially those finale pieces, printed and polka-dotted looks with scrunched hip details.


Warning: View with sunglasses. Miuccia Prada turned on the neon brights with klieg-like intensity. When Prada does color, she does color. She started with orange, royal blue and green looks that, at their root, are classic—boxy suits, slim skirts, simple shift dresses.

Prada also occasionally dabbles in a historic theme (remember her Art Nouveau moment?) but with a particular Miuccia twist. Here, it was all those cheeky monkeys in Baroque frames dancing across tops and dresses. The designer herself donned banana earrings.

The other motif du jour was stripes. Like big, Cat in the Hat, bold stripes in those neon brights, black and more subtle tones. She mixed these—fat and slim horizontal stripes topping mini stripes.

And she mixed all these different notes together beautifully, as seen in a pair of monkeys on a stiff, cropped top over a neon pink striped, high waisted pencil skirt. To say it, it sounds ridiculous. To see it, it is pretty darn chic for the bold-minded fashion lover.

But Miuccia also knows that certain customers need a certain look. So she took all those terrific silhouettes and sent them out in black. They were, of course, accented with fur scarves in bright, bright stripes.


Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana threw the ultimate garden party, Italian style. Meaning, all those D&G buds were delivered with a dose of sex appeal, as seen in the very first look—a floral top tucked into very brief, um, bloomers.

The overtly optimistic theme was also seen in cheeky-kitsch t-shirts with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs prints. Very sweet when worn with a girlish skirt, but also stylishly ironic if paired, say, with a tailored men’s jacket and skintight jeans.

Elsewhere, the duo offered up an endless array of picnic table prints or more florals. The difference here was in the breadth of silhouette, from 70s-style flared jeans to pinafores, babydolls and bohemian maxis. Or even a pretty cami that peeled back provocatively to reveal a flowered bra.

Anchoring all this petal mania were charming stacked Wellies or wrapped espadrilles and the most understated earthy belts.

Their final message was a flower delivery unparalleled—a parade of voluminous, sheer, totally feminine long gowns. La vita e bella, indeed.


Karl Lagerfeld's brief from Fendi — keep it long, languid, and totally effortless. Color's good, but not too crazy. Walking out of his presentation, one was left with a sense of "ahhh."

His colors hovered just shy of vibrant — soft pinks, beautiful turquoises, rich purples, sometimes accented with a poppy belt.

Working in '70s silhouettes (when longer lengths met cinched waists), he offered up his take on grown-up dressing. The kind that's put together effortlessly with the right accessories.

These were the kinds of clothes that look great in a casually dramatic setting, like a costal perch in Capri, where you're ensured a light sea breeze will flutter your blouse or dress just so.

That said, Lagerfeld's specialty is translating that desire for someone who lives in a city, too, and just wants to add a little sophisticated romance to her look.


Frida Giannini's Gucci runway was a return to form. As in: that flashy, glossy, luxurious form that Gucci is. For spring, the quota on gem colors in silk and revealing silhouettes (both clingy and skin-baring) was more than filled.

That's not to say that Giannini didn't show some restraint, introducing a group of earth-toned jackets, skinny pants, and fringed looks.

This was definitely a luxury statement, with an emphasis on those covetable Gucci bags and extras that scream status.

Giannini's take on evening mixed warriorlike leathers and loosey-goosey riffs on a Marrakech motif. One sexy stunner was a jumpsuit with an Oh My! kind of neckline.

Evening was also about embellishment, with tons of intricate beading and fringe and feathers detailing Gucci's glamazons.

Burberry Prorsum

Between the new retail concept (watch the show live on an iPad in-store, click to buy your favorite look, and receive it seven weeks later), Christopher Bailey continues to keep the venerable Burberry Prorsum name at the head of the tech pack. Design-wise he did something similar, taking a staple like the trench and toughening it up with a sexy biker edge.

When he wasn't repurposing the trench and wrapping it with a neon belt, he was mixing camel and black leather in strict, brief, tight silhouettes. These weren't so much biker chicks as they were biker chics.

He softened all that leather with moments of flou, like tiered mini dresses in soft blue, green, and bright pink.

Bailey focused on a body-con silhouette, most noticeable in the cadre of leather leggings in slick, shiny black or sci-fi silver.

For evening (geared toward his younger Burberry Prorsum customers if the hem lengths are any indication), he peppered in bold leopard prints and studded those jackets with demonstrative gold spikes. But the real news here is how Bailey believes that the biker jacket, in essence, is the season's new neutral — wear it over everything.