In Milan, Armani, Bottega Veneta reaffirm Italian style

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Giorgio Armani's voluptuous elegance rubbed shoulders Saturday with Bottega Veneta's timeless sophistication in their ready-to-wear offerings for next winter's woman at Milan Fashion Week.

Excitement over the presence of British actor Clive Owen in the front row at Armani's show gave way to hushed appreciation of the black velvet and bright silks that coloured the collection.

Both chic and comfortable, it featured puffed miniskirts and cashmere linings while putting forward saffron and other unaccustomed oriental colours.

Moschino meanwhile offered a mother lode of basic blacks trimmed with gold and topped with felt cowboy hats.

Black leather gloves travelled the arm to meet the level of a strapless minidress in a bold statement of confidence, second only to a 3-D box pleat mini-skirt in red or black for a lurid party evening.

British designer John Richmond also turned on the sex vibe with garters showing under miniskirts and boots climbing high up the thigh.

A light grey skirt suit with no blouse but a red scarf was another come-on in a collection that was classy despite the ruby red stilettos or the white tuxedo jacket with nothing underneath.

Max Mara set a martial tone with high-buttoned dresses and coats while also staying true to its trademark cashmere, camel hair and flannels in black, blue and grey, with gold highlights.

Bottega Veneta meanwhile redefined verticality, drawing the eye swiftly from top to toe with sleeveless silk jersey dresses in black or startling solids such as bottle green, all perched atop black wedge boots or quirky "booties".

An asymmetric black jumpsuit in cashmere jersey had playful business at the top but was strictly no-nonsense on the way down, a hallmark of the collection.

Creative director Tomas Maier called the look "an envelope, narrow and long, structured at the top and fluid at the bottom".

See-through pleated wool tulle dresses in black, ink blue and dark iris invited glances at tasteful fishnet stockings, while the plunging necklines of two gabardine pantsuits also pointed the way down.

Evening gowns were statuesque, with skirts flowing endlessly from the waist.

Etro proposed an eclectic collection inspired by the orient, featuring luxurious silks in variations on the kimono, as well as heavily tiered African-style necklaces.

Muted gold or bronze and dusty blue proved a winning combination in many of the kimono-type creations.

Also Saturday, fashion maven Suzy Menkes had a word or two about the growing presence of bloggers such as Filipino phenom Bryanboy on the front row at the Milan shows.

"I hope bloggers realise they are being targeted," the veteran fashionista for the International Herald Tribune told AFP. "Those of us who have been in journalism for a long time know that there is no such thing as a free lunch."

Early Saturday a small group of animal rights activists lay on the sidewalk outside Max Mara's show - though the designer was one of the few to eschew fur this season.

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