Sep 19, 2012
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Milan fashion week kicks off with Gucci homage to Japan

Sep 19, 2012

MILAN - Milan fashion week opened with a stunning Japanese-inspired collection on Wednesday, as Gucci gave pyjama suits and long dresses a sensual twist with bell sleeves and billowing ruffled necklines.

Gucci - SS 2013 - Photo: Pixel Formula

Designer Frida Giannini kept it simple, with dresses, suits and shorts in single block colours -- brilliant blues, yellows and pinks -- softened by tiered waves of material gathered loosely at the neck or spilling down sleeves.

"These are portraits of aristocratic women, evoking a strong allure with a clean, precise, defined aesthetic," said Giannini, whose "aristographic" look featured high necklines and sharp cuts which seduced in their simplicity.

There were glimpses of bare flesh through deep slits down the back of cocoon-shaped cocktail dresses and floor-length gowns in sensual silks and satins, paired with sparkling earrings and necklaces adorned with flowers.

The pyjama-as-evening-wear trend which was such a hit among celebrities and fashionistas this year was given an exotic twist in this spring/summer 2013 collection, featuring slouchy silks in prints inspired by Japanese wallpaper.

After-hour glamour with an Oriental twist was conjured up through sea anemone designs as well as tunics with a snake-skin pattern, which were made using fibers from Japanese paper, the French-owned fashion house said.

The models sashaying down the catwalk to a mix of romantic melodic strains and a pumping beat wore their hair pinned in a low bun. Clutches and shoulder bags in coloured or transparent pexiglass matched high-heeled "cage sandals."

Moving away from the opulent and daring evening-wear creations last season, Giannini presented red-carpet dresses in just two colours -- black and white.

Simple white and black evening dresses closed the Alberta Ferretti show as well on Wednesday, in which the Italian designer renowned for her feminine creations created had conjured up a mystical under-water world of softness and light.

Bewitching sirens shimmered down the runway in ultra-feminine floor-length chiffon and satin dresses and skirts in hues of turquoises, nude and blue.

"It's a summer dream," Ferretti said backstage before the show.

"It's a collection for the woman who craves liberty, movement and light. The silhouette is simple but the embroidery creates a luminous glow and the layering gives an impression of floating," she said.

Sequins and thin transparent beads covering tunics and above-the-knee dresses were softened by delicate capes and layered skirts down to the ankle.

Lace embroidered flower patterns crafted onto nude linings to give the illusion of being painted directly onto the skin drew gasps from the crowd.

Ferretti and Gucci kicked off a week which will see 68 Italian and international brands strutting down runways amid a host of cocktail parties.

Prada stars on Thursday, while Etro takes to the catwalk on Friday, along with Moschino and two Versace shows.

Saturday opens with German designer Tomas Maier, who will unveil his latest creations for Bottega Veneta, followed by Fendi and Jil Sander's hotly-awaited collection -- the first since she rejoined as creative director in February.

On Sunday, it will be the turn of Marni, Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani, after which the Armani house will host a glitzy inauguration party for a new exhibition to showcase the Italian designer's most memorable creations.

Fashion week winds up with DSquared2, Roberto Cavalli and Gianfranco Ferre on Monday, with Tuesday dedicated to up-and-coming new designers.

Beneath the frantic preparations for shows taking place in the city's palaces, parks and historic monuments -- including the imposing 14th century Sforzesco Castle -- there is an air of apprehension over the sector's health.

Last week the fashion industry forecast a 5.6-percent drop in revenue for 2012 to 60.2 billion euros ($79 billion), down from an earlier 5.2-percent estimate -- and luxury brands in the recession-hit country are being squeezed.

While many fashion houses are now focusing their efforts on expansion abroad -- particularly in economic powerhouses such as China and Brazil -- a recent slowdown in growth in China has put the industry on edge.

by Ella Ide

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