MILAN (AP) - After New York and London, it's Milan's turn to have a say as to how women will dress for the spring-summer 2013.
If the first day of previews Wednesday was any indication, next summer will feature a lot of bold color and patterns. While the more structured, usually daytime, looks were in heavier fabrics, evening or playtime came in airier, diaphanous materials like chiffon and tulle.
Milan designers are offering more romantic looks rather than their trademark slinky and sexy. Long and loose pants were paired with ample tunic tops while voluminous long skirts offered a nice sweep.
The accessories _ high-heels and bags alike _ often replicated patterns in the outfits. Hair styles were long and simple, either tucked up in a chignon or behind the ears.
Over the next six days, more than 60 of Italy's top designers, including Gucci, Armani, Versace, Prada, Dolce&Gabbana, Fendi and Ferragamo will present their take on next summer's well-dressed woman.
"Sophisticated and essential" is how Gucci designer Frida Giannini described the elegant collection that kicked off Milan Fashion Week.
Based on a simple elongated silhouette with artful cutouts and decorative flounces, accessorized by skinny high-heeled cage sandals and oversized 1970s costume jewelry, the collection came in bold shades of fuchsia, coral, kiwi green, mustard yellow and electric blue.
Total black or total white underlined the couture feel of the collection, as did the delicate prints reminiscent of Japanese floral wallpaper, penthouse pajama pants or the bell sleeves of a simple cocktail sheath.
But Giannini is very much a contemporary designer, and her couture came with an edge. This is seen in the sophisticated ankle straps of the sandals decorated with the logo horse bit, the plexiglass clutch bag and the snakeskin patterns for evening wear.
Diaphanous, dainty and above all delicious. The Alberta Ferretti collection for the spring-summer 2013 is sure to be a hit wherever sophisticated maidens gather, from beach clubs to garden parties to summer weddings.
While a mega-screen projected silently moving water, model after model came down the runway wearing gowns so light they looked like a second skin. With their hair gelled back as if they had just come out of the water and many gowns ending in a delicate train, the models looked like a parade of beautiful mermaids.
The colors of the gowns ranged from pearly white to sea green and Mediterranean blue. Sometimes the light fabric was adorned with shimmering sequins, at others it came in dainty lace. Sheer nude tulle, which allowed the skin to shine through, held the gowns together, creating the mermaid effect.
The overall look was young, demure and very special with every outfit unique.
When asked what inspired the dreamy light look, the Italian designer said she felt the need to "make up for the heavy moment we are all going through."
Mila Schoen dug into the archives for 1970s graphic prints for next year's warm weather looks.
The collection at Milan Fashion Week featured zigzag, confetti or gum-wrapper prints in dreamy pastels or more vibrant pinks, sea-foam green or gold.
Many of the daytime looks were two pieces, allowing for endless combinations and coverage. Cropped tops were shown over belted short skirts that flair, long-sleeved tunic tops were over super-wide trousers for an elegant, all-covered feel.
Designer Bianca Gervasio played with volume, accenting short skirts with a pair of inverted pleats on each hip for a bubble effect that contrasted with tighter fitting bodices, sometimes off the shoulder or with cap sleeves.
And Gervasio turned the volume way up for evening wear, offering romantic flowing pleated or tiered skirts that swept along the floor. The evening color palate was mostly pastels, a soft pink skirt with an ivory off-the-shoulder top, pulled together by a belt accented with crystals.
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