D&G put traditional seal on Milan collection

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The Independent Online
ITALIAN designers flew the flag at Milan Fashion Week yesterday. Dolce e Gabbana's floral collection for autumn/winter '98 was inspired by a walk through a Mediterranean garden, making use of some of the country's traditional handicrafts including hand-painted fabrics from Como, local embroideryand Sicilian fringed scarves.

At a press conference earlier in the week, Stefano Gabbana took half an hour out of his pre-show schedule to talk the media through a small preview of the new collection. "Each shawl takes a week to make," he assured us.

The clothes are mostly one-off pieces, hand-painted with yellow mimosa sprays, hydrangeas and garden insects. Bumble bees buzz around the skirt and a diamante dragonfly purchases on the strap of a pair of shoes. "This is craftsmanship you can only get in Italy," said Gabbana.

The collection was as sexy as we have come to expect from one of Italy's most famous fashion exports, with bras built into bustier dresses and painted stretch-net dresses worn over shiny silver rubber underskirts.

It is not often you get to ask a designer about the washing instructions for their garments, but these clothes look so fragile and delicate that the question seemed necessary. Yes, the pieces can be dry-cleaned. And even better, the gold plastic brocade, one of the collection's new additions, can be wiped clean. Prices range between pounds 1,250 and pounds 6,000 but the shawls in particular, are like heirlooms to be passed from generation to generation. Although still ready-to-wear, this is the closest Dolce e Gabbana get to haute couture.

Earlier in the day, the Moschina collection was upbeat and assured, with hand-crocheted edgings on coats, satin striped Yves Saint Laurent- inspired evening wear and the season's inevitable box pleat skirts.

Since the designer's death in 1994, the label has continued to produce humorous clothes with slogans and logos like "if you can't be elegant, at least be extravagant."

The message yesterday was "create your own destiny".