Gucci and Richmond: modern dandy meets party girl

Gucci's brightly-coloured birds of prey stalked down the catwalk Wednesday as Milan's Fashion Week got into full swing.

Emerald green and teal feathers adorned violet hats worn rakishly over 1970s-style fur stoles in Gucci designer Frida Giannini's autumn-winter creations.

The look was accompanied by full-sleeved dresses pulled in with a sliver of a belt at the waist or flared trousers.

"The collection captures a contemporary female dandy who fuses glamour and seduction," Giannini told buyurs and guests.

"She is a polished woman with a decisive personality, who is attentive to detail and willing to dare."

Pant-skirts and silk culottes were matched with diaphanous blouses with v-necklines plunged to the waist. Simple, sleek black and white graphic prints were topped with magnificent stoles of fox, mink and goat hair.

As the show came to a crescendo, flares and fur were swapped for abstract floral sculptures, rust-coloured organza petals in chiffon that spilled over shoulders and down to veil dresses beneath.

Earlier in the day, Roccobarocco's show had aimed to wed nostalgia with optimism for the future.

Closely fitting, sober black-and-white checkered dresses with wide shoulders were glamorised with large silver bows, sweeping trains and lace cuffs.

The models strode down the runway to The Killer's "Mr Brightside" on the soundtrack, the soles of their high-heeled shoes painted in startling greens and reds, decorated with studs.

The Neapolitan designer splashed out on silver satin chic, toning down fur-collared jackets and sleek blouses with ripped black jeans, to the delight of the younger crowd, some of whom had managed to sneak in univited.

John Richmond stuck to his classic rock style, entertaining an excitable crowd with models who sauntered down the mirrored runway in leather, denim and back-combed hair.

There was a touch of the 70s again, with copper-coloured suits with flared trousers. The British designer also went for fur, setting off military jackets with short fur sleeves or large fur ear muffs.

One of the starring pieces was a midnight blue full-length dress with painted fabric reminiscent of Caravaggio's "Fruit Bowl".

"I had fun with this collection, it's really vamp. I wanted it to be all about women who enjoying partying," designer John Richmond told AFP.

"It's not about getting blind drunk, it's about the intelligent woman who enjoys dressing up, having her make-up done and going out and having a great time," he said backstage after the show, champagne in hand.

His enthusiasm was echoed in Alberta Ferretti's collection, which she said was inspired by the "dynamic woman of the future".

Ferretti's exquisitely tailored designs had a 1960s touch, with wide tunics in blocks of orange, emerald green, teal and fuschia lifted by glittering sequin details on the lapel or cuff.

Her eveningwear collection starred a sleeveless satin all-in-one with flared trousers, a full-length bronze dress with bow at the back, and coral and light blue translucent dresses that seemed to float.

"I feel a positive energy. There may be some nostalgic touches in my collection, but it's important to be looking to the future, making something for today's women, who live a demanding world," she said.