Prada and Cavalli give Milan the boot

MILAN, March 1, 2009 (AFP) - Tightly zipped or held up by garters, thigh-high boots by Roberto Cavalli and Prada were the new must for the femme fatale at Milan Fashion Week on Sunday.

Marni fashion show, fall -winter2009/2010

Long slim legs filled Miuccia Prada's boots to the hilt, and garters of the same leather attached to a belt cinching an ultra-short skirt or frock -- or even a furry undergarment.

Calf-high boots with rugged all-weather soles in fawn, black or red were also secured by garters reaching to the knee.

Then blood lust was in the air as Prada's female gladiators marched down the catwalk in tunics made up of leather strips sparkling with strass.

Meanwhile, black leather, zippers and diaphanous fabrics added up to more than mere suggestion in Cavalli's collection.

"It's not a time for romance," the Florentine couturier told reporters. "You have to be aggressive to win," he said, adding that he had "declared war on the (financial) crisis."

A zipper climbs up the back of the leather boot all the way to the top of the leg to flirt with the hem of a miniskirt in fur or nail-studded material in Cavalli's come-hither creations.

By night, it all comes off, to be replaced by a skimpy black body stocking draped in sheer black or midnight blue voile.

Ferragamo's Cristina Ortiz went for subtler come-ons, like a vampy crimson strapless gown with a cutout down the front, or fingerless leather gloves over arms encased in gauze.

Less understated were her killer evening gowns displaying bare breasts under black fishnet or gauze.

By contrast, demure kneesocks have been a recurring sight in Milan, and Marni was no exception, this time with a discreet chequered motif.

Designer Consuelo Castiglioni experiments with the theme throughout the collection, offering ultra-modern variations like squares cut from shimmering silk or cheery quilted fabrics for a refined graphic effect.

Richly embroidered brocades also dominate, competing with elaborate plastrons adorned with pearls, flowers and ethnic frills.

Furs, also omnipresent this week, showed up chez Marni almost as an afterthought -- in panels decorating a wool coat, a small collar or a shapka held on by ribbons -- and more generously in Eskimo muffs.

Is it a sign of these recessionary times, or mere nostalgia for the Thirties, when coiffures were held together in hairnets and hemlines brushed the calves?

Antonio Marras's greys, taupes and olive drabs and his round-toed black lace-up ankle boots with socks had an unmistakably martial air, crystalised in a belted double-breasted jacket over a pleated skirt.

Marras, Kenzo's artistic director, acquired a large stock of actual military jackets which he used in many of the creations, transforming them with ruffles, ribbons, brocade and lace.

Angelo Marani came up with a look reflecting today's liberated femininity: flowing dresses opening out over black sheath trousers, layered Chantilly lace blouses or simple gold shells over jeans decorated with loads of strass and embroidery.

Black velvet caps added flair, and there were wide studded belts for punk appeal.

Tailcoats and multiple layer capes came with regimental buttons and trim or colourful linings.

On Monday, the penultimate day of Milan Fashion Week, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana and Fendi take their turns.by Gina Doggett

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