Berardi takes British style home

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The Independent Online
THERE WAS a tattooed fishnet sheath dress, a trouser suit constructed entirely out of zips and a priest coat with flashing cruciform lapels at Antonio Berardi's Milan catwalk debut last night. The 30-year-old designer has decided to show in Milan rather than London where he has been based since he graduated in 1994, he says, because his business interest is greater in Italy.

He has an Italian backer - Givuesse - and more stores across Italy stock his designs. He is also the son of southern Italian parents.

Although he was born and grew up in Lincolnshire and cut his fashion teeth at London's Central St Martins, he holidayed in Sicily as a child and was later confirmed there.

At last night's show the designer plundered both British and Italian aspects of his heritage. The catwalk was a blood-red crucifix covered in melted wax - its smooth surface was quickly annihilated by models' vicious spike heals.

The scent of incense filled the air. The show was called Never Mind the Borgias - the typeface on the CD-shaped invitation echoed the famous Sex Pistols logo.

The clothes were a hybrid of high-octane Italianate glamour - micro- mini skirts, figure hugging tailoring and sky-high shoes - an edge that harked back to punk's glory days.

There were Seditionary T-shirts - they looked rather more commercial here in black stretch organiser than the originals that inspired them. Sequinned bondage kilts, equally were World's End irreverence meets Milan glamour and glitz in flavour.

And what of the Borgias, name checked so prominently? The 16th-century Italian dynasty's penchant for poison was very much in evidence to - in the form of belladonna and other deadly blooms boldly printed across creamy white evening wear.

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