MILAN (AP) — The looks were sheer and the message for next summer from Milan was crystal clear: Fashion should be fun.
Many designers showing spring-summer collections during Milan Fashion Week made prominent use of sheer fabrics. But rather than being straight-out sexy, the effect was often an optical illusion, giving the eye more to feast on, not less.
At Missoni, a form-fitting tube dress in the label's trademark patterns was worn under a voluminous sheer organza dress, while Blugirl layered sheer over sheer, creating a romantic effect without really covering up.
Prints and graphic motifs popped up all over, with cheery floral patterns the most ubiquitous. Color was important, with apricot, sea foam green, powder pink, blues and earth tones as the background. White and black are perennials, but no longer dominate the show.
The kaleidoscope of uplifting color — and the prolific use of ribbons, ruffles, beading and glitter — could be a designer rebellion against the European financial crisis and an invitation for women to look on the brighter side of life.
"Basta (enough) drab colors!" said Lavinia Biagiotti, who runs the Biagiotti label with her 'Queen of Cashmere" mom Laura. "We need to come up with some anti-crisis vibes, and why not start with what we wear?"
Designers didn't dictate a hemline, giving women free reign. They seemed more interested in the upper silhouette, which was often loose and embellished with pleats, flounces and rich embroidery. Variety also reigned in the trouser department: Gauchos and pedal pushers, palazzo pajamas and cigarette pants, and even the occasional hot pants.
The big trend in shoes was high-heeled sandals strapped at the ankle. In a bit of season-bending, Ferragamo combined the high-heeled sandal with an over-the-knee boot.
Bad news for hair stylists, the look is long and unfussy. There were few hats, but lots of hand bands and head scarves.
Asia provided the inspiration for many designers — whether it was a stylistic tribute or a nod to the importance of the new markets for luxury labels was impossible to know. Prada deconstructed the kimono, Aquilano Rimondi incorporated elaborate obi sashes and Pucci embroidered dragons, tigers and snakes on silk chiffon.
Prada, already widely heralded for the upcoming season's designs, ended fashion week Monday by reporting first-half earnings up 60 percent from a year earlier due largely to Asia, but also to tourists visiting Europe. That's a net income of €286 million ($370 million) on revenues of €1.5 billion ($1.94 billion)
The fashion caravan now moves to Paris, where French designers will show their summer ready-to-wear wares.
Roberto Cavalli closed the door on Milan Fashion Week with a show that had little to do with his trademark sexpot hype.
The Florentine designer's 2013 spring-summer collection opened with a series of white outfits combining chiffon with leather cut like lace, which set an elegant pace for the rest of the show.