Giorgio Armani dazzles, Dolce & Gabbana get playful

Giorgio Armani may have dazzled Milan fashion week with a series of glittering stellar creations, but Dolce & Gabbana pulled off the most innovative and fun look of the season with wicker bustiers.

The hotly-awaited Armani collection ranged from sleek silk suits in the brand's trademark subtle tones to a series of glittering eveningwear creations.

The first half of the show was dominated by trouser suits in gossamer silk, broken up by a few shorts -- all done in greys, blue-greys or soft turquoises, and worn with a sliver of a hat, perched on the side of the head, beret-style.

The look was sensuous but powerful, with sharply-tailored suits worn with masculine shoes with silver heels. As the show went on, flowing trousers were layered with fabric in an Armani retake on the skirt-over-trousers trend.

It was the evening wear that won Italian fashion king Giorgio Armani rounds of applause from the delighted fashionista audience, as he brought out one after another of glittering dresses and floaty creations with a stellar design.

"The sparkle is accentuated for the evening, with a constellation of stars on a navy blue background," the brand said in its programme notes.

The key to the collection was light -- shimmering on silk or bouncing off crystal adornments or rhinestone-studded heels, to create a multifaceted effect, "as if observed through a kaleidoscope," the label said.

The spring/summer 2013 designs were unveiled in front of a host of celebrity guests, including tennis star Serena Williams, and the show was followed by an exhibition gathering together the best of its clothes, accessories and jewels.

Dolce & Gabbana wowed the crowds with a fresh, innovative Sicilian-inspired collection starring intricate wicker bustiers, baroque-sculpture shoes and colourful beach prints -- against a set decked out in sand and spikey cacti.

Models sashayed down the runway to Domenico Modugno's song "Wonderful", a hymn to the summer sun and sea, wearing satin, striped one-pieces in the candy pinks and blues of beach umbrellas, worn with foulard head-pieces and earrings.

The day-time sea-side feel continued with flat sandals and bags shaped like holiday lunch-boxes, while black polka dot dresses were perfect for nightfall.

Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana said their colourful dress prints were inspired by "the famous puppets of Sicilian street theatre".

The blues, greens and pinks melted into creams, golds and browns with loose dresses bearing the slogan "Sicily" made of straw, as well as fitted ones in rough printed cotton adorned with buttons, gems or gold brocade.

The designers offered hoop earrings and sandals evoking Sicily's traditional carts -- but it was their sculpted platform shoes that caught the eye.

While the whole collection pleased with its freshness and range of ready-to-wear outfits for the carefree girl, it was the show's playful finale that amazed, with a series of bustiers inspired by classic Sicilian baskets.

Worn under netting or over black underwear, the corsets put a modern spin on an antique femininity, recasting the Sicilian noblewoman for the 21st century.

Over at Marni, designer Consuelo Castiglioni presented a simple collection in whites, blacks and greens, where dresses found sophistication in layering.

The label said its theme was "sparseness as elegance," and patterns were scarce, with most of the dresses or coats in a solid colour, their silhouettes broken up by folds in skirts and peplums that added volume around the waist.

There was a nod to this season's geometrical theme, already seen in collections such as Fendi, with a coat and skirt in horizontal and slanting stripes, the latter worn with a jacket sporting tiny red and black squares.

While some outfits had plunging "V" necklines, most were crew -- another trend this season, along with the flower motif that appeared here as well.

Milan fashion week enters its sixth and penultimate day on Monday with DSquared2, Roberto Cavalli and Gianfranco Ferre all taking to the catwalks.

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