If London is the top destination for talent spotters and Paris the centre for avant-garde designers, Milan is where fashion is big business. That's why the most important new silhouette at Giorgio Armani's spring/summer 2008 show was a mobile phone.
Following in the footsteps of Prada and Dolce & Gabbana who have also diversified into telecoms, Italy's most successful designer yesterday used the first day of Milan Fashion Week to launch his touch-screen device, which will be on sale by November. It is the latest in a string of branded fashion accessories destined for a global market – with an Armani flat-screen television to follow.
Armani, 73, was among the first to open flagship stores selling luxury goods in countries such as China and India and his own mall in Milan sells Armani sushi, chocolate and flowers.
Strange to say, then, that not many of the clothes on his catwalk yesterday had broad, let alone global, appeal. Whether you call them culottes or knickerbockers or bloomers, the puffy knee-length silk trousers worn by almost every model are tricky in any language.
In the crochet hairnets or kerchiefs worn by models yesterday or in the layers of fringed shawls that festooned shoulders, a rustic fisherwoman theme emerged. Armani said he was inspired by his idea of "Atlantis". However, judging by the generous helpings of ritzy crystals and jet beading that clung to every surface, this is a thoroughly Milanese vision of utopian island-life. Though sticking to his characteristic grey and navy-blue, Armani picked up on the emerging trend for sheer and transparent fabrics, particularly in his finale of layered, loose-fitting dresses that almost brushed the floor.
Putty-coloured chiffon dresses decorated with Indian embroideries were worn over floral-printed slips and layers of fringed crochet shawls danced over bodies.
For their D&G line they cater to young clubbers and those who want their fashion short, tight and sexy. But this season Dolce & Gabbana were in a romantic mood. The duo said that their tiered floral-printed chiffon dresses and frayed, stonewashed bellbottom jeans were inspired by the Glastonbury festival. Many festival-goers might have recognised a bohemian spirit in these inoffensive 70s-style prints, faux crocodile trousers and floppy leather hats.
But it also looked uncomfortably similar to young Christopher Kane's tiered dresses, reptile prints and frayed denim in London last week.
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