In Milan, Versace lays on the leather, Armani soft-pedals

MILAN, Gina Doggett - Top Italian fashion designer Versace laid on the leather Friday while Blumarine's Anna Molinari and maestro Giorgio Armani offered a softer, more feminine touch at Milan Fashion Week.
To the roar of revving motorbikes, Donatella Versace's models lit up the catwalk with yellow, purple and steely blue and black leather get-ups including backless or off-the-shoulder dresses and ultra-miniskirts.

A model displays a creation as part of the Versace Fall-Winter 2010-2011 ready-to-wear collection during Women's Fashion Week in Milan (AFP/Giuseppe Cacace)
A model displays a creation as part of the Versace Fall-Winter 2010-2011 ready-to-wear collection during Women's Fashion Week in Milan (AFP/Giuseppe Cacace)
Jackets had structured backs suggestive of bikers' garb, while open zippers bared bits of flesh.
Things were less in-your-face at Blumarine, whose woman was effortlessly seductive in leather or pony trenches with pushed-up sleeves over hyper-minidresses and calf-high boots.
Molinari created an urban jungle with zebra, crocodile and python motifs for her fall/winter 2010-11 collection.
Plus fringes, which dangled everywhere -- off the high hemlines playing peekaboo with the thigh, off the sleeve or side seam for the original frontier effect, or off the handbag or belt for the sheer fun of it.
Body-hugging draped minidresses in black and pastels for evening became gowns with the addition of a diaphanous chiffon train floating behind.
Giorgio Armani, for his part, proposed relaxed elegance with draped blouses and wraparound skirts in lilac or pale blue, while his greys with orange highlights suggested an autumn day.
Voluminous black fur coats, both long and short, added drama, and waistcoats standing in for tops provided a sassy touch for his youth-oriented Emporio Armani collection.
Smart skirt suits evoked flight attendants, while oversized cloth collars softened form-hugging leather jackets.
Gianfranco Ferre imposed a tone of sober elegance in a collection painted in beige and luminous copper.
Designers Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi, who described their wardrobe for next winter as "practical and sophisticated," sent grey suits down the catwalk as well as elegantly draped blouses over skirts with a demure slit at the knee.
Canadian designers DSquared were the showmen of the day, waving a magic wand to reveal a black-and-red collection amid smoke and seduction.
A black curtain opened to reveal a model in an elevator cage before she began a slow descent in a puff of smoke, to be greeted at ground level by two hunks in nothing but gold-coloured briefs.
As the model emerged onto the catwalk, it became clear that only her red panties came between her and the fur-trimmed black coat she was wearing.
DSquared twins Dean and Dan Caten were quick to deepen the innuendo with a pair of models sporting black minidresses studded with organza flowers over bright red boots.
The makeup -- smoky black eyes and crimson lips -- completed the look the Catens described as being "between the manga girl and the femme fatale."
Spontaneous applause greeted a strapless number adorned with huge black and red feathers before the Caten twins took the lift themselves to take a bow, wearing matching outfits, tans and smiles.
Milan Fashion Week, which began on Wednesday, runs until Monday.

Saturday, February 27th 2010
Gina Doggett

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