Fashion fun at Moschino, Etro shows in Milan

Playful military uniforms and tapestry-inspired trompe l'oeil prints competed with a hen as a hat on the third day of Milan's Fashion Week ahead of the keenly awaited Versace show.

Moschino's autumn-winter collection starred a feathered-fowl creation and featured red, cream and black riding coats, double-breasted jackets and tuxedoes which were lifted by bouquet-print lining and flower broaches.

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 neckline 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 eveningwear collection, as well as shimmering gold trousers matched with black-trimmed, oversized double-breasted jackets.

The Etro show also featured tuxedo silhouettes and masculine jackets, adorned with tapestry motifs on the lapels in a collection shot through with burnt and rust tones, as well as soft greys and midnight blues.

"I was inspired by antique carpets, tapestries and embroideries ... everything that has a history," Veronica Etro said backstage before the show.

Heavy wools, tartans and tweeds were combined with metallic lurex pieces that shimmered like liquid and were accessorised with large, elegant round gold pendants or holster-style shoulder straps decorated with ancient coins.

Coats with tartan bodies and metallic leather arms were finished with a sheepskin collar, gilets were adorned with carpet-fringe tassels and simple black jackets were embellished with gold, Inca-esque designs.

For all its new take on fabrics - wool treated to look like fur, pelt disguised as knit - the collection had an aged quality to it as if discovered in distant lands.

"The colours and textures evoke borderlands, with women who have lived embattled lives: warrior women," Etro said.

In stark contrast, the women at Gianfranco Ferre were leading lives of languid indulgence, in silver, beige and gold cashmere and in velvet and silk dresses, worn with delicate flesh pink, grey or black pumps.

Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi's designs drew on "shapes and structures that reflect a feel for the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright," a US turn-of-the-century architect who designed the Guggenheim Museum.

Large jackets with asymmetrical lapels paired cashmere and fur, while dual-toned purple and black dresses to the knee were lifted with an open slit from nape to waist at the back, or with a silver cummerbund.

A play on textures saw velvet and sheepskin panelling on patterned coats, chiffon blouses or dresses.

In a similar vein was an evening gown in alternating bands of satin which clung to the body revealing traces of bare skin.

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