Times, they are a-changing, even on the Milan runway, where the lady is no longer a tramp and “very proper has replaced “molto sexy. For the fall-winter 2008-2009 preview showings, Italian designers decided that raunchy was risky as the strong euro continues to weaken clients purchasing power.
They opted for a safer ladylike look.
“It s all about tenderness, said Stefano Gabbana, of the Dolce&Gabbana duo who made sexy synonymous with Milan several decades ago.
The routes the designers took were varied, from drab to colorful, from classic to folkloristic and from demure to “femme fatale. But the message was always the same. Even Fendi, famous for its opulent furs and extravagant bags kept extravagance at bay: Fendi s only indulgence was gold sprinkle on a sable jacket.
Footwear is the one area where designers let their imaginations run free, in platformed winter sandals, high boots or patent-leather lace-up ankle boots, all worn with thick tights.
Following are the “ins and outs of the new look:The over-all theme evokes Russian and gypsy folklore with its floral embroidery and ethnic prints.
The styles are mainly cut away from the body, with lots of pleats, panels and ruffles in wintry tweed and velvet. See-through chiffon is nowhere in sight.Skirts have a major role in the new collections, with the 1950 s mid-calf ballerina skirt the favorite style. Some have a fur-trimmed hemline. Heavy knit pullovers and cozy cashmere sweaters replace lingerie tops.
Dresses are mainly of the tunic type, but even when silky they never cling to the body. Trousers are out, with the few pairs seen on the runway cropped above the ankle.
Star of this round of showings is the coat in light woolen fabrics – the kind proper ladies wear. Furs show up now and again but aren t a big item in these global warming times. Vests also make a big comeback, from the folklore kind to an elongated version, which could also be called a sleeveless coat.
Warm winters or not, bare legs are out, replaced by thick and woolly hosiery.
Bags are smaller than in recent seasons, often in classic shoulder bag style. “In again is the square silk scarf of the kind favored by those most ladylike of actresses Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.
The color palette is somber, mostly black with touches of gray and beige. Muted fall shades such as pomegranate red, plum purple, pine green and leaf copper are reminiscent of the age-worn colors of a Renaissance painting. Best at combining these shades in the same collection was Angela Missoni, daughter of Rosita and Ottavio Missoni, famous for the color mixtures of their knitwear.
Heels for next season are as high as ever, and continue to be one of the most significant expressions of the female ego. Next winter the platformed lace-up ankle boot that can double for a mountain boot is sure to be a hit – and not only at ski resorts.
Hair styles are of the well-brought-up kind, either demurely loose or gathered in a prim ponytail.
Makeup is so plain, you almost want to tell the ladies to powder their noses.