Bright young things

Carola Long reports on womenswear trends from the Italian fashion capital for Spring/Summer 2012

All that Jazz Age

Glancing back to more hedonistic times, 1920s influences were all over the Milan catwalks via low waists, skirts made of tapes or fringes, beading and optical or geometric patterns. Etro’s prints were simplified and presented in brighter sorbet shades, at Versus Christopher Kane fused the twenties with the fifties trend via the “cheerleader flapper” in milkshake colours, while Cavalli’s sequinned flapper dresses with harness-like straps would have raised a few eyebrows at the Paris Ritz back in F Scott Fitzgerald’s day.

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From left: Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Jil Sander

Cream of the crop

There’s nothing to crop tops beyond flashing a bit of stomach, right? Well, sometimes there probably isn’t, but often they were part of a wider fifties theme, and had an undercurrent of more complex sexuality. At Prada, silk bandeau tops worn under demure lace car coats expressed a conflict between the sexy fifties rebel and the more bourgeois lady whose image so fascinates Miuccia Prada. At Jil Sander’s mid-century modern inspired collection too, short knitted jumpers worn over blouses hinted at unexpressed desires, but they also offered a hint as to how to wear them off the catwalk – by layering something underneath.

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From left: Emilio Pucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, D&G, Just Cavalli

The silk scarf route

More often found knotted at the neck or tied to an Hermes birkin, scarves are no lunger just an accessory this season. Instead, designers used them to create dresses, tops, skirts, even shoes, taking them into more glamorous territory. D&G staged an homage to the foulard, creating designs which fused classic baroque patterns with animal prints, stripes and butterflies, then twisting and draping them around the body into mini dresses or halterneck gowns, and numerous other designers followed suit with jewel-coloured foulards or light chiffon. Colourful and sensual, this was Milan all over.

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