What austerity? Milan's spirits lifted by opulence of Dolce & Gabbana

Label breaks Fashion Week's minimal mood with display of pure Italian indulgence

If many Milan labels have dealt in sedate and understated luxury this week, then Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana haven't heard. Their collection yesterday was pure Italianate opulence, inspired Gabbana said before the show, by the idea of "romantic baroque".

"The jewellery is all based on the Sicilian baroque period," he said of neo-classical golden headbands and hair slides loaded with stones, "and the embroidery comes from the church."

Dame Helen Mirren and Monica Bellucci were in the audience, seated beneath chandeliers wreathed in Capodimonte roses and serenaded with Neapolitan standards.

Severe but sumptuous black wool capes and dresses were encrusted with crosses and curlicues picked out in golden thread, mirrored beads and paillettes that recalled picture frames. Tooled silk and jacquard dresses, cherub-printed, tapestry blouses and sheer corsets complete with golden panniers will no doubt come in at a suitably princely sum.

After the announcement last September of the closure of the duo's subsidiary D&G line, Milan's most famous initials were still present in this collection on cotton T-shirts, providing entry-level priced pieces for customer who may never previously have considered this most lofty of labels.

So even though the show resembled an imperial court, there was something more democratic at its heart; in this respect, Dolce & Gabbana's version of baroque was fully in step with the times.

Consuelo Castiglioni, of Marni, has also broadened her remit recently; a collaboration with the high-street chain H&M is due to launch next month. While those on a budget eagerly await that range, the label's high-end clients revelled yesterday in a collection that contained all of the Marni hallmarks: boxy cuts and linear designs referenced Mondrian and Bauhaus, and texture came by way of dense embroidery and scrunched rubber decorations.

"It's more architectural," Castiglioni explained. "Concentrated on shape, colours and textures, with prints as punctuation."

The graphics were simple, almost naive, to offset the mannish shapes – single red roses and dandelion heads came on structured tunics with delicate dropped shoulders and subtly exaggerated hips. Where waists have been on the higher side so far this season, here belts were slung deliberately low on outsized coats and jackets. Mid-length skirts also had the label's trademark "fake" waistbands at hip height, with the real fastenings further up, to give the deliberately "anti-fit" look added sleekness.

Milan Fashion Week concludes today with shows from Giorgio Armani and Roberto Cavalli, and the final round of autumn collections opens in Paris on Wednesday.

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