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MILAN (AP) — Milan rang in its fashion week with something old, and something new, and some still on the cusp.
Tried-and-true designers like Gucci opened up five days of womenswear previews for next spring and summer, alongside some hot, young talent -- Stella Jean and Fausto Puglesi, to name two -- who have gotten a firm leg up in recent seasons as Italy's fashion city has sought to energize the moda Milanese with new names.
Vogue Italia dug deeper into the talent pool, showcasing a new generation of designers from their "Who's on Next" competition, showing off the creations during a cocktail hour.
Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue US, toured each stand greeting the young designers. On hand were winners Salvatore Piccione, whose delicate looks in robin-egg blue incorporates appliques of bees onto romantic floral prints, and Aliza Shalali Deizy, who creates eye-catching bold prints, feathery skirts and sequined tops for her two-year-old Daizy Shely brand.
"I want to empower women through my clothes," Deizy said at the event.
Some highlights from Wednesday's previews:
GUCCI'S HIPPY CHIC
Charlotte Casiraghi, the face of Gucci's new cosmetics line wearing a black leather timed cocktail dress, and Kate Moss, in a python leather coat over a black jersey dress, were front and center for Gucci's preview of its hippy chic collection for next summer.
Baggy boyfriend denim was one of the touchstones of the collection that is an updated ode to the 1970s, designer Frida Giannini's favorite bygone era. The denim is relaxed and never binding, from the wide-legged cropped mariner jeans with big gold buttons, to the blousy denim dresses with lacy, eyelet panels.
That the looks are versatile is highlighted by the choice to send out the denim looks alternating with short, printed silk cocktail dresses, sometimes worn with wispy fur vests, or featuring military brocade detailing, or as a kimono cut.
It's a collection that is full of separates that can form the backbone of wardrobes for a long time to come: relaxed cropped jeans, suede coats and tunics, braided leather belts, a soft version of the Jackie bag and Gucci boots — to the ankle or knee. The palate is likewise easy to adopt: pearl white, denim, brown, burgundy and burnt orange.
Fashion icon Anna Dello Russo gushed expletives backstage for Fausto Puglisi's new collection.
"Wickness on the runway," Dello Russo explained. "It's really refined, with a fierce vibe."
Puglisi, who worked in the United States before returning to Italy to launch his brand and who is also Ungaro's creative director, called the collection Suburban Gladiator. That's part of the story.
Puglisi said he was inspired by Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," gladiators and Pierre Cardin. "I mixed together all my icons for this show," the designer said backstage.
Energy permeated the looks, deriving partly from the wild optical illusions and trompe l'oeil in the black-and-white patterns, enhanced by Swarovski crystals even for day wear, creating an almost armored effect.
Puglisi's creations are meant to be layered and patters both mixed and clashed, to allow women to customize the look. So target-and-checked patterned mini skirt can be worn over leggings and pared with a midriff-baring shell top. On the simpler end of the spectrum, one of the more striking looks was a series of long sleeveless dresses with a zip-straight down the front and back.
The color palate was mostly black and white, with flashes of orange, lime green and gold lame. Shoes were gladiator-style sandals that wound up the leg to mid-calf or knee, or bejeweled flip-flops.
Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean has remembered what many of her designing cohorts have forgotten, forsaken or left to their resort collections: the swimsuit.
Perhaps it is her Caribbean- and African-inspired looks that kept her mindful of the refreshing promise of swimwear. The speed with which the swim-suit clad bevvy of models appeared at the end of the runway show made it clear that they were easily incorporated as undergarments into Stella Jean's colorful tropics-meet-Europe collection.
The looks translate easily into street fashion, with, say, a mermaid skirt paired with a football jersey for team Port-au-Prince. While Stella Jean takes inspiration from her Haitian roots, she also takes tailoring and styling cues from her native Italy. Plaid, button-down shirts accompany more flamboyant pants or skirts out of printed fabrics that recall Gaughin's Tahiti paintings.
The silhouette ranges from long, sheer flowing shirt-dresses, to puffed-out bubble skirts with oversized blouses with three-quarter sleeves that is kept in proportion with a neat striped belt.
The designer emphasizes the ethical nature of her textiles, which she has made in Africa through flagship program that brings together artisans living in poverty with brands and designers. The baubles that complemented the collections hail from Haiti.
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