September 26, 2011 10:56 pm

High baroque with a heart of gold

The market value of gold might be falling, but on the final day of Milan Fashion Week its stock was still high on the catwalk. At the Roberto Cavalli show on Monday, gold coloured beads, sequins and snakeskin all featured as part of a typically baroque and enjoyably attention grabbing collection.

Two main looks were juxtaposed throughout; rock and roll tailoring and evening dresses. Skinny trousers and jackets, some matching, came in black with gold beaded tuxedo trims, leopard print satin, jungle print, gold crocodile and gold snakeskin and covered in gold sequins.

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The first dresses – some of which were worn with tailored jackets over the top – picked up again on the 1920s theme, with drop waists and skirts made from beaded strips of fabric over multicoloured chiffon. Later dresses included sheer printed dresses, satin dresses covered in animal print and coat of arms-like designs, and the finale was provided by long, sheer net gowns beaded and embellished with wallpaper-like patterns.

Gold was also surging at Gianfranco Ferré on mini dresses covered in gleaming feathers and tufts of raffia, and at Salvatore Ferragamo on a draped cocktail dress in a molten metal lamé and an evening dress in laminated gold chiffon with a melange of animal prints. Any starlet who wears it on the red carpet will genuinely “dazzle” her public.

The Salvatore Ferragamo show on Sunday brought home how clearly trends are emerging for next season, when it became another label to show silk scarves, along with D&G and Pucci. Perhaps designers are inspired by the financial success of ultimate silk scarf label Hermes. Not that Ferragamo is in need of a boost, Salvatore Ferragamo SpA listed on the Milan stock exchange on June 29 this year, and posted a 32.4 per cent increase in net profits in the first half ended June 30, to €45.7m ($61.6m).

Dresses made from silk scarf material in animal and tropical flower prints were twisted and knotted at the neck or wound like luxe sarongs, and also appeared on strapless jumpsuits with a 1970s disco feel. Bare shoulders were an integral part of the collection which featured bright shades of deep magenta, cobalt, teal turquoise, yellow and dark violet. Cobalt and magenta also featured at Missoni on knitted, geometric patterned dresses with a flamenco feel.

Armani: Shades of oyster, silver and steel in shimmering fabrics

Armani: Shades of oyster, silver and steel in shimmering fabrics

Unsurprisingly, there was a more muted palette at Giorgio Armani, where shades of oyster, silver, and steel came in shimmering fabrics and finishes, whether pearlescent, iridescent, or just slightly gleaming. They appeared on evening wear as well as the soft tailoring that the 77-year-old designer, estimated by Forbes to be worth $7bn, is known for.

Bias cut jackets without fastenings or lapels were worn with cropped silk trousers with slashed ankles and draped silk knee-length skirts. Against the sound of crashing waves and the image of a moon over water projected on to the wall, the finale involved three models in moonlight-coloured beaded strapless column dresses leaning against each other like the Three Graces on their way to the Oscars and adopting what were presumably meant to be soulful expressions.

A much less classic aesthetic was on offer at Versus, Versace’s younger, more affordable line, on Sunday. While last week saw the end to the D&G diffusion line, as its being folded into the Dolce & Gabbana main line, Versace is on a drive to boost Versus. It has been designed for five seasons by Scottish-born Christopher Kane, and on Sunday the house showed the first collection at its Palazzo in central Milan since taking production in house and buying back the licence.

According to fashion industry paper Women’s Wear Daily, the idea is that the line will provide a boost and room to grow for the main line, and the company intends to double current sales of €6m in 2012 and quadruple the figure in the next five years.

With the catwalk made to look like a basketball court, and the start of the show signalled by a piercing referee’s whistle, Kane’s sporty inspiration was clear. The Versus girl this season, was a “cheerleader flapper,” showing off a gym-honed body in sporty mini dresses in “milkshake colours”. Pale pink satin tunic dresses, and cropped sports jackets and giblets came in pale pink with black borders, and there were mini dresses with skirts made of tabs.

A vertical zigzag pattern like that made by a heart rate monitor covered crinkled dresses and skirts in pink, blue and yellow, in a collection that showed Versus has a strong identity and direction.

The same can be said of Milan Fashion Week this season. Collectively, the shows offered clothes that are relevant for consumers – not just meant for celebrities to borrow – and, crucially, optimistic.

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