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2009 March 2

Runway Reviews

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Prada Fall 2009 Prada Fall 2009
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(MILAN) Prada
At last, a designer who dares to defy! But then again, it's always modern at Prada, and despite the near-traumatic seating experience (which topped even last season, due to the smaller venue and addition of rafters), the designer cultivated a crowd of believers. The first statement was a literal one of survival, with thigh-high leather waders (often heeled) drawing a metaphor for fashion's need to proceed through the mucky stuff. That borderline funny footwear was juxatposed with very serious clothing, including boiled wool coats paired with slit skirts, a V-necked fur tunic in an ominous shade of blood red, and even a pair of brick-colored mink bloomers. The sinister vibe--underscored by the glittery red eyes--did have a lighter side, namely those feathered Mary Janes that will have shoppers swooning come August. "I was drowning with delight," summed up Elle's Kate Lanphear, citing the powerful effect of a warbling, surreal soundtrack with such focused, intense clothes. More succinctly? "Now this is why we come to Milan," said one top editor while exiting into the rain.

Alberta Ferretti
There was plenty to observe at Alberta Ferretti's show, a parade of pieces (some trend-driven, some Ferretti regulars) rather than a seasonal statement. But the Ferretti customer thanks her for such varied offerings, which this season ranged from the first story of colorblocked seperates in teal, azalea to the last one consisting of metallic '20s dresses. In the meantime, she offered some sales-floor winners with daywear like tailored grey wool jackets and the subtly embroidered dresses underneath. A small square bag covered entirely in white fur was a token of Ferretti's marvellous skill at manipulating shapes and textures.

Vernonica Etro was feeling quite Byzantine this season, as metallics and feathers mingled with Etro's signature bright prints to dazzling effect. Bronze belts and gilded, plumed collars accessorized leather skirts, culminating in a vaguely silhouette, especially when the burnt sienna cape appeared. Padded shoulders added to the warrior woman aesthetic, while an asymmetrical cube print frock is bound to win serious points on the cocktail circuit.

Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi are masterful tailors who interpret detail just about better than anyone else in Milan. Their namesake Fall collection began with killer black dresses, each one wildly different in shape, tone and attitude. The angular shoulder abounded, with two jackets covered in beads and studded with plumes drew goosebumps from a crowd---tough to do after Prada. With each passing show, be it Ferré or their namesake line, Aquilano and Rimondi are making their case as the future of fashion in Milan. There were touches of Schiaparelli-esque surrealism in several pieces, including the shocking pink series (a Schiaparelli signature shade) beautifully shown in the last look, a velvet cocoon coat.

Mixmaster Consuelo Castiglioni did it again, but contrasting with last season's spectacle of brights, her look for Fall was darker--if by no means less complicated. The gilded garlands strewn about models' necks had accessory editors swooning, but they were simply the icing on this well-executed mix of lean skirts, swing coats, textured tights and daffy accessories (fur earmuffs, anyone?). The busy platforms, abstract floral prints and fur cardigans are the makings of this brand's soul--one that went even deeper this season.

Burberry Prorsum
Those seeking relief from the narrowest possible silhouettes currently assaulting Fall runways found plenty to love at Burberry, where designer Christopher Bailey looked to those Bloomsbury brainiacs for throw-on coats, cozy cardigans and slouchy silk dresses. In true Burberry fashion, outerwear was key, with trenches and shearlings warring for equal runway time. Sturdy, heeled boots and fur scarves kept it modern. Overall, though, Bailey's retro take on dressing is more modern than some of his contemporaries, especially when comparing a '30s vintage with the '80s.

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