Miuccia Prada is often a step ahead of the pack, so it was no wonder that her latest collection had little to do with what has been going on the Milan runway: easy dressing in light and airy styles.
Her collection shown Tuesday was indeed light _ she's into flesh-baring these days _ but certainly not easy to wear _ or walk in. Several models tottered and fell on the fish-decorated runway, as they slipped out of their ultrahigh-heeled platform sandals strapped at the ankle. Many finished their catwalk shoes in hand.
The latest Prada collection is divided into categories from bra tops to dresses in python and fish prints, to variations of the old-fashioned night gown, to gilded evening wear. To underline the potpourri feel, all the models walked up and down the runway at the same time, creating the effect of a fashion kaleidoscope.
Prada topped a long list of shows on the second day of the Milan fashion week that runs through Friday, including Jil Sander, Bottega Veneta, and Moschino.
The only "easy" item in the new Prada collection is the latest Prada bag _ a simple leather clutch.
The bra top, an item that could never have shown up at Prada a decade ago, is worn with an off-the-shoulder jacket and below-the-knee skirt with lingerie velvet detailing, all in shimmering silk. The favorite style for the silk reptile and seashore prints is an overly loose sheath. The nightie dresses come in various fabrics and are strictly off-white, like clothes stashed away in a trunk.
A series of wooly tops worn over a flared miniskirt brings the collection back to our days, only to lose it to the future in cosmic gilded gowns.
Raf Simons for Jil Sander stripped minimalist of its stiffness and livened up the staid Jil Sander label with soft contours _ and fringes.
The Belgian-born designer who took over at Jil Sander in 2005 managed to create floating, airy styles while maintaining the strict contours and conservative shades of minimalist fashion.
Some examples: the back of a classic jacket is elegantly draped or cut out. Sleeves are slit open to turn into free-flowing panels, and vertical slashes on coats result in decorative loop panels.
The biggest news is that Simons managed to take the frill out of fringe and uplift the silky strand to minimalist fashion heights. Each strand was embroidered separately onto a dress, coat or even a hand bag. The yesteryear lampshade effect worked especially well for inserts in dresses and jackets, lending extra softness.
Whatever the season or the mood, Thomas Meier, the German designer at Bottega Veneta offers chic styles with a modern touch.
Picking up on next summer's easy-to-wear fashion, his collection includes ultra-soft leather wear, jersey skirts and tops, striped linen pantsuits, and delicately patterned silk shirt dresses. Sure to be a summer hit is the wide basket skirt worn with a simple sleeveless blouse reminiscent of the look favored by Audrey Hepburn in the classic film 'Roman Holiday.'
Taking its cue from the easygoing elegance offered by Italian designers this round, Moschino, known for its fashion sense of humor, served up an over-the-top collection for next summer.
With an ironic fashion wand, Moschino turns roses into skirts and cropped jackets, embroiders a trench coat with ruffles, and decorates a simple stole with sweet bows.
On the serious side, Moschino offers a series of perfectly styled couture outfits, highlighted by giant bags.