Italian designers opt for safe styles next summer to combat economic danger

By Daniela Petroff, AP
Friday, September 24, 2010

Italian designers play it safe for summer 2011

MILAN — The Italian designers showing their “wears” for the Spring-Summer 2011 are playing it safe.

Even if recent figures show the fashion market is doing better, designers are still suffering from the economic nose-dive of several years ago and can’t afford to get hurt again.

Even an innovator like Miuccia Prada kept her fashion fantasy under control showing a fun-filled but carefully packaged collection where the basic silhouette was well-cut and uncomplicated.

In this round of preview showings color has been the fashion trump, adding a lighthearted touch to every show. Moreover a 1970’s folksy, ethnic feel has permeated almost every runway. The designers are asking their clients to sit back and enjoy, rather than be challenged by avant-garde fashion concepts.

On Friday, midway through the Milan Fashion Week, Etro, Ferre and Donatella Versace interpreted this message in very different ways.

Etro took the folksy tack, showing a relaxed collection based on the silk scarf. The fashion house folded the scarf into origami figures which turned into a handkerchief wraparound skirt, a caftan top or a tunic dress. The preferred pattern was paisley although the season’s favorite — the floral print — showed up throughout the collection.

Ethnic gold chokers, tribal bracelets printed clutch bags, studded platform heels and funky Holly Hobby hats completed the folksy look.

Since the death of Gianfranco Ferre in 2007, that label is designed by a young duo, Tommaso Aquilani and Roberto Rimondi. Ahead of their Friday afternoon show the two said they were going for “easy, effervescent and absolute femininity.” Examples of this aim came in an intricate macrame jacket over a short skirt, a leather jacket paired with pleated skirt and a series of silk knitwear enriched by embroidered patterns.

For evening, the designers offered up a diaphanous long pleated chiffon skirt, a look which is as safe as it is beautiful. However, when topped with a snakeskin bodice it became the most daring item seen on the Milan runway thus far.

On Friday evening, Donatella Versace, presented a show that was almost as proper as it was prim, a real about-face for the designer known for her sexy styles.

In the new summer collection her clothes caress rather than grab the body. Daytime wear is subdued: simple dresses with plastic geometric detailing, and suits with a cropped jacket and a straight below the knee skirt.

The usual tight pants and short shorts are no where to be seen.

The Versace color palette by day and night aside from black and white is made up of beige, turquoise and bright red.

The only concession to the sexy old days are the bare backs and a few slits on skirts and dresses. Even the footwear is high but never aggressive. Gone is the signature goddess gown to be replaced by a ladylike gown with delicate fringe detailing.

To underline her new take on fashion, Donatella traded her usual end of show runway outfit- tight black pants and matching glittery T-shirt, for a subdued below-the-knee black cocktail dress.

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