Feb 18, 2008
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From flappers to pop princesses, Milan turns full circle

Feb 18, 2008

MILAN, Italy, Feb 18, 2008 (AFP) - Colours screaming Florida and unabashed sexuality ripped through Milan fashion week as designers paid homage to free-sprited women, from the flappers of yore to today's princesses of excess.

Extravagant designs and iridescent shades were omnipresent as retro styles, from the low-waisted dresses of the Roaring Twenties to the psychedelic oversized prints of the 1970s, set the runways alight.

Flamboyant Italian designer Roberto Cavalli said his 2008-2009 autumn-winter collection was for young girls who rummaged through attics, junk shops and old vinyl records to seek individual style.

A thumbs up from Generation Now would be his greatest compliment, he said.

"I love it when a little girl of 14-15 says 'How do you do it Mr Cavalli? You make me feel like a rock star,'" he said.

Flamingos served as the leitmotif on blouses and flowing organza dresses were splotched with blobs of peach, tangerine and emerald green, enlivening an already eye-popping floral backdrop.

Cavalli also went for winter-warming tartan suits, leopard print dresses and mini skirts in python, felt and denim. Vests were either cropped or extra long with fox or Mongolian fur details.

Accessories included chunky charm bracelets, earrings dangling to the collarbone, fur purses, oversize owl, toucan and flamingo pendants, and tights in leopard and abstract prints.

Iconic son of the soil Giorgio Armani, best known for his soft deconstructed suit, stuck to conservativism, working off a palette of essentially black and grey but showcasing his trademark excellence in tailoring, detail and cuts.

His models wore high-waisted flowing gray slacks with giant bows tied at the side and flowing almost to the knees, teamed with ballerina shoes and large sunglasses.

A black cocktail dress for the Emporio Armani label was a show stopper, flaring from the waist down into rings of tight coils held together as though by magic.

But Armani toyed with quirky elements: polka-dotted tights in lavender and purple, baby-pink clutch handbags, and a stole dotted with pom-poms.

Designer duo Frankie Morello for their part opted for Amy Winehouse-like shock value, saying they were offering "rehab" for rich, beautiful women fallen victim to "alcohol, drugs, sex, fame, boredom and self-centredness."

Their repertoire went from a black T-shirt with the brazen message 'I love Poppers' to a pink shirt with a multi-layered hood proclaiming the wearer to be "Belle de Jour" -- a tribute to a particularly sultry role played by their muse, French actress Catherine Deneuve.

Funky elements were omnipresent: giant Casper eyes on hats and pink pillbox hats -- immortalised by Jackie Kennedy during her White House years.

Models click-clacked on imitation croc stilettos with metal heels, and there were shades of bondage with layered black patent leather skirts that had a latex feel.

For Italian label Kristina Ti, Sunday's show was a tribute to the flappers of the 1920s who shed corsets, girdles and long hair and smoked in public, marking a milestone in women's long march to equality.

Designer Cristina Tardito also went for low-waisted flapper dresses and caps, Charleston-style shoes, bracelets adorned with Art Nouveau animals, and Empire-waisted dresses with the hemline tied in a bow in front.

She turned the Boudoir bag almost into a briefcase by expanding its proportions and jazzed up the classic Twenties-style dresses with puffed sleeves by injecting contemporary shades such as electric blue, melange grey and poppy red.

Tardito said her inspiration was the erotic writer Anais Nin, who became American author Henry Miller's lover, forming with him and his partner June one of the most famous love triangles of modern literary history.

"Nin ... wrote about sex like a man, using a pseudonym at first and then revealing herself at the right moment -- just like each of us should do still now using the weapons of mystery to whet the prey," she said.

By Abhik Kumar Chanda

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