Va-va-voom Versace versus the refined elegance of Armani

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With many of the international collections so far focusing on pared-down, even practical clothes, the extroverted woman looking for something with a bit more va-va-voom might be justifiably anxious. Step forward Versace, which showed yesterday that its commitment to sexy, flashbulb-popping clothes doesn't waver.

Short, asymmetric, clingy dresses in black and white featured cutaway panels and low backs, which were offset with turtle necks. Bodycon mini dresses featured patchwork metallic leather in silver, dark blue and dark red. Trousers were cropped and skinny, and made from motorcycle-style ridged patchwork leather in brown and purple. The show closed with signature paparazzi- friendly column dresses slashed to the thigh in block coloured yellow, turquoise, red and white, with metallic inserts at the bust.

A more refined vision prevailed at Emporio Armani, where Giorgio Armani showed his take on polished elegance. The Italian designer is known for soft tailoring, and much of the collection focused on masculine shapes rendered in luxurious fabrics or with feminine flourishes. Skirts were well above the knee – grey tulip and pencil shapes – while sculpted prom dresses came adorned with sequins or clustered fabric flowers.

Tapered trousers in black, white and pale grey silk were teamed with cropped jackets and blazers with shaped waists, or covered in pale blue or black paillette sequins. Pastel shades of blue and lilac and flashes of tangerine played cameo roles in the collection.

Armani is credited with pioneering the concept of the lifestyle brand, and today his empire encompasses a couture line, several ready-to-wear lines, underwear, perfume, cosmetics, cafés and homeware.

But the latest must-have in an Italian designer's portfolio is a hotel or two; Missoni and Versace have their own and Moschino unveiled one here in Milan this week. Not to be outdone, Armani will open his first hotel in April in the Burj Tower in Dubai.

Earlier yesterday, prettiness and restrained romance were – as ever – on offer at Alberta Ferretti's eponymous label, which showed its autumn/winter collection. Ferretti's dresses were once again the high point. Not all designers live up to their billing as understanding what women really want to wear, but Ferretti's collections are consistently elegant and well thought-out. Her cocktail dresses aren't thigh-skimming or plunging creations that necessitate an ingenious use of "nipple tape", and they take in such practical considerations as actually being able to wear underwear. Models appeared in short dresses in tunic and Twenties-inspired shapes, sewn from flesh-coloured, pleated chiffon and gathered silk satin. Some were tiered and had delicate horizontal bands of crystal wrapped around; long sleeves or dress backs of nude silk tulle created the illusion of bare skin.

Long evening gowns came in pearl-grey silk with beaded strips, and diagonally tiered nude silk. Clustered pewter and antique gold beads on shoulders provided a sophisticated glamour. Coats were frock-shaped, in black with metallic flecks, or navy with sleeves made from shaggy silk tapes. The collection stayed within a gentle palette of nudes, greys and black with hints of navy, emerald and sea green.

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