Armani's secret agents, Versace's Oscar gowns

Secret agent femme fatales captivated the Emporio Armani show on Saturday, their sculpted dresses in stark contrast to Donatella Versace's fabulous feathered gowns for the Oscars.

Italian fashion king Giorgio Armani's label, which has hired US actress Megan Fox for a sexy ad campaign, presented an all-black collection, inspired by film noir crime dramas.

Models wore black, peaked caps pulled down low over their eyes and short, tailored jackets with concealed buttons to convey the secretive world of "international espionage," guests were told.

True to film noir's visual style, a play on light and shadow accentuated silhouettes: sharply cut jackets and coats were softened with ruffles at the neck or puffed-out sleeves, from elbow to wrist.

Sleek jumpsuits, satin culottes or pipe-thin trousers puffed at the thigh were worn with towering stilettos with silver heels or with pumps - presumably to enable the spies to stalk their prey with greater ease.

A sparkling silver gown with detachable ruffle collar, sleek black dresses with detached puffed sleeves and Mongolian fur coats aimed to encapture "the beat of great nightclubs and the silence of famous hotels."

There were nods to trends seen elsewhere in Milan Fashion Week, from a hint of tartan on a cape with large tassles to pleated coats and sarong-style wrap-skirts.

The only touches of colour were blue and green feather-adorned bags, a blue feather shrug and a purple feather coat. Even the dog, scooped up under one model's arm, had his own, all-black outfit.

The plumage motif was also a feature of Friday's Versace, which starred Red Carpet gowns with sweeping plumed trails, part of the autumn/winter collection unveiled in the garden of the label's Milan headquarters.

Models also strode out in black leather military-style coats with gold Medusa buttons - the Versace house trademark - and tunics with open backs, as well as purple rollneck jumpers matched with leather pleated skirts.

Fur mufflers in white, purple and green set off the classic 'little black dress', updated by plunging V-shaped necklines or crossed straps and striking tulip patterns in bright yellow and purple.

Backstage after the show, a tired but pleased-looking Donatella Versace showed off the collection highlights but gave few hints about who could be wearing the feathered gowns at the Oscar ceremony on Sunday.

Another take on the playful military uniform and feathers theme was seen earlier on Friday at Moschino's autumn-winter show, which starred a feathered creation and featured red, cream and black riding coats.

Gold bear-shaped pins, large pearl necklaces and long gloves softened "the rigid lines of that man's world that a woman knows all too well and can wear to perfection," Moschino's Rossella Jardini told her guests.

Slinky, classic black dresses that rested just below the knee were embellished with large white ruffles at the neck and waist or a shirt worn with a bow tie, floral cummerbunds or the fantastical feathered-hen hat.

Satin floor-length and below-the-knee dresses in nude and candy pinks were the highlight of the evening wear, as well as shimmering gold trousers teamed with black-trimmed, oversized double-breasted jackets.

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