MILAN — The planes from here to London are packed today as retailers set off on the second leg of their four-country spring buying spree.
Milan was all right, but not thrilling, judging from the restrained audience response at many shows. But some new trends emerged that doubtlessly will be repeated not only in London but in Paris and New York as well.
Big and small flower prints, in soft silks or sheer cotton fabrics, are a romantic sign of the season. They are on black or a pale ground and used in dresses or fluttery skirts that sit below tailored jackets.
Fashion Exclamation Point
Pants dressing is coming back. Although pants were not a focus of many shows, enough were shown to make them a fashion exclamation point. Ellin Saltzman, fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue, is often a bellwether of these sorts of things. She has alternated between above-the-knee skirts and pants during her outings to shows here.
At Giorgio Armani's evening show, where most females wore above-the-knee skirts with dark stockings, she was turned out in black wool trousers with a simple, round-neck, black silk blouse tucked in at the waist. The models' hair in most shows was pulled back off the face, often wound into a bun at the rear. Saltzman's long hair was likewise coiffed.
Scarf dressing may have a renaissance too. This is something that any woman can manage on any size budget. All it takes is an oblong of chiffon, although other fabrics, such as colorful taffeta, will do. Designers here used scarfs to form cummerbunds from the waist up or hip wraps from the waist down. Some simply pinned sheer oblongs right beneath the arm of dress bodices or on the hip of the skirt causing an interesting flutter on otherwise slim and simple outfits.
Shoe of Choice
High-heel, sling-back pumps are the Milanese shoe of choice, although some designers showed softly constructed flat-heel shoes even with evening styles. These lent an ingenue look to the models.
And, of course, there is the hemline hike. Like it or not (and most female store executives seemed to like it), the knees will probably be bare for spring.
Bare shoulders and bare midriffs were prominent here too, as were bubble blouses and billowy poet's shirts with dolman sleeves or dropped shoulders. These were originally a Romeo Gigli-signature style, but now show up almost everywhere. They float down to the hip, completely obscuring the shape of the upper body.
Palette of Pastels
A beautiful palette of pale, chalky pastels surfaced in Milan, along with bright yellow, green, purple and hot pink. Black and white was most popular of all, showing up in combinations of checks with plaids.
One of the most eagerly awaited shows on Wednesday was that of Callaghan, the more sophisticated and commercial collection designed by Milan whiz kid Romeo Gigli.
The designer showed both billowy and snug silhouettes, long and short skirts and his usual variety of beautifully offbeat fabrics.
Long, full skirts, often of gauzy-cotton fabric, dropped in gathered tiers or layers to mid-calf or longer. These were topped by jackets or the big, billowy tops that have become Gigli's trademark. Very short jersey skirts clung close to the body and were gathered vertically on one side, giving an upsweep effect to the hemline. Some of these jersey miniskirts were shown over pants, with short, straight jackets that hit just above or just below the waist.
Jackets of Red
Slope-shoulder jackets of red, indigo or wine silk Shantung sat easily over wrap-front bubble blouses or snug, bare-midriff tops.
Exotically colored silk scarfs were wound, halter-style, around the neck and bosom or upward from the waistline in a sort of cummerbund effect.
Straight pants, interspersed throughout the show with the vast array of skirt styles, were teamed with oversize, man-tailored shirts with dropped shoulders and oversize man-tailored jackets, both of which looked as if they had really been claimed from a muscular boyfriend's closet.
For evening, it was crusty black cotton lace, shaped into full skirts that fell into bell or tiered shapes, often beneath simple, unadorned gray or brown knit-jersey, long-torso sweaters that looked suitable for wearing under ski clothes.
The collection was full of intriguing ideas and expanded the repertoire of styles for which Gigli has become known.
At Genny, designer Gianni Versace's look was short, close to the body and feminine.
The designer majored in black-and-white solids, prints, checks and plaids. He teamed a checked linen jacket with a short, two-tier, black-and-white chiffon skirt. He mixed assorted checks and plaids with rompers, shorts and pleated skirts.
Even some of his shorts were pleated. Versace was one of those who used scarfs, tied at the waistlines or over the hips of skirts. Draped but not tight pants were cropped a few inches above the ankle. Floral prints showed up here too. Some were accordion pleated, worn in place of skirts with tailored jackets.