Armani, Ferre, Sander offer clean lines in Milan

MILAN, Italy, Feb 27, 2009 (AFP) -Clean lines and careful craftsmanship came to the fore Friday in Milan as Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferre and Jil Sander unveiled their autumn-winter collections.

Creation by Jil Sander fall-winter 2009/2010 - Photo : Christophe Simon/AFP

Blacks, greys and blues were at once austere and elegant in creations that Armani still managed to imbue with Mediterranean nonchalance.

Flashiness was out as legs hid under opaque tights, while skintight trousers demanded a perfect gait -- ditto for exquisitely gathered skirts.

And "King" Giorgio has not abandoned his fetish for velvet, which he cut small and black into tiny dresses, one with an explosion of strass on the shoulder, another with a panel of champagne-coloured satin, and yet another with the most plunging neckline possible.

Designers Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi won unusually sustained applause with their second ready-to-wear women's collection for Gianfranco Ferre, offering a meticulously sculpted, even geometric, silhouette.

It all starts with the shoulders, structured into squares or triangles.

Then velvet trousers ride wide and fluid on the thighs before tapering close to the calves, while upholstery tacks trace the lines on a stiff coat.

A different sculptress, Jil Sander, offered virginal purity with futuristic lines with her collarless coats and buttonless jackets.

Starting out with sober shades of black, grey, white and beige, she burst out in the second half of the show with dynamic contrasts.

A grey coat's collar harboured a brilliant yellow lining, while body-hugging shifts curved black against white.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for their part mixed it up between an angular tomboy look and fluid femininity.

The contrast could not be more jarring as DG alternated sloping gamines in stovepipe trousers, mannish shirts and neckties with a parade of richly ornamented velvet bodices atop bouffant miniskirts.

Oriental high-collared wool jackets or peasant blouses with balloon sleeves rode over high-waisted peg-leg jeans, then gave way to flowing floor-length skirts of silk chiffon in autumn colours.

Providing warmth were luxurious grey or black astrakan furs.

Burberry's trademark trench coat came with floppy, exaggerated lapels and cuffs, or with a pleated back creating its own form of energy, often topped off with a hat pulled low over the eyes.

Pleats showed up in multiple guises, for example adding swish to a skirt hiding under an extra-long knit pullover.

In line with the muted colours were simple white cotton peasant blouses and frocks, while furs with smooth uppers and shaggy lowers exuded cosiness.

On Saturday, as Milan Fashion Week enters its fourth day, the catwalks will belong to Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Moschino.by Gina Doggett

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