Moschino swirls into the arena to the sound of the Toreador's Song

 

Toreadors, the Navajo, Mariachi bands and Frida Kahlo were all on the menu in Milan yesterday – and, amazingly, they were all packed into one vibrant show.

From skintight cigarette pants worn with cropped bolero jackets to fringed suede and loose, hippyish dresses, Moschino served up a characteristically diverse collection for spring/summer 2012.

"It was inspired by warm, sunny places such as Spain, New Mexico, southern Arizona and Santa Fe," the brand's creative director, Rosella Jardini, explained after the show.

"The colour palette reflects this: yellow and so much gold."

It was referenced, too, in fringing, suede pieces and ponchos, as well as in smocked, white, cheesecloth dresses embroidered with the turquoise and rust-coloured threads of the Mojave. But it was the show's opening Matador jackets that caught the eye.

Encrusted with tinkling bells and metallic embroidery so thick it looked like beading, the cropped boleros came in silk, leather, even as a cape, and embellishment developed over several looks into cutesy hearts cut into soft and pliable leather, as well as intricately wrought lace.

Models wore astrakhan bull-fighters' hats and strutted along the catwalk to the "Toreador's Chorus" from Bizet's Carmen. "Spanish influences have been a theme in past Moschino collections," Jardini added. "Today, I wanted to emphasise this continuous discovery of shapes, feelings and meanings for classic pieces of timeless attire."

A leather biker jacket covered in psychedelic flowers and hearts read "make up not war" along one side, a nod to founder Franco Moschino's cynical sense of humour and surrealist sensibilities.

Since taking over in 1994, Jardini has built on these irreverent foundations to create pieces that are bright without being overbearing, with an informal, witty and often cartoonish elegance, and she has made Moschino yet another powerhouse. There is a special affection for the brand in Milan, where it opened a boutique hotel last year and where streets boast the label's hoardings on every corner. And Moschino will show its diffusion line, Cheap and Chic, in the city this evening.

Donatella Versace took her bow to whoops and cheers from the crowd yesterday evening, taking to the catwalk in a white studded supple leather cocktail dress that summed up the feel of her latest collection. Models were "Versace sirens" in leather, neoprene and pleated jersey covered in studs and sequinned starfish.

Cropped jackets printed with mermaids and conch shells came in a palette of pale lilac, water blue and cool green, teamed with sporty knickerbockers, and floor length goddess gowns were embellished with seahorses picked out in gold studs. The watery theme was played out in a contrast of sculpted and fluid silhouettes, armour-style cuts and drapery, in a show which was so sexy that it made the Birth of Venus look downright prudish.

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