Amid pessimistic economic conditions and much ado about a shortened calendar attributed to American Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s travel schedule, Milan Fashion Week, Feb. 24-Mar. 1, offered lively, easy-to-wear options for the F/W 10-11 season, with buyers responding well to designers updating their brand DNA.

Many focused on sexy miniskirts, short dresses, hot pants and bermudas and fur items, be it jackets, vests and coats or as minor accents in mink, astrakhan or fox. But blended fabrics and clashing styles also abounded. Innovative knitwear, sci-fi detailing, reinvented military classics and quirky accessories such as knee-length socks characterized the new fall/winter collections.
Most innovative show was Marni, with its unique fabric blends, modern harlequin patterns, unique colors and knee-length bermudas complemented by a small skirt around the waist, which was decorated with graphic circular cutouts in sequins and contrasting colors. Rubberized prints on tops also offered a graphic accent while reinventing the all-time basic tee.

Buyers and executives also welcomed Prada, whose collection focused on an updated 60s silhouette and a square-shaped reinterpretation of the bustline. Strong impact abstract prints and accessories such as knit socks with a central front braid and high-heeled colored moccasins added an extra touch to the designer’s new message.

Versace presented a futuristic sci-fi biker woman. Black and electric blue, yellow and red flashy accents defined this collection, which also offered skin-tight ergonomic patched trousers and tops, as well as florescent blue miniskirts and metallic patchwork on funky mermaid dresses.

In the opposite direction, cozy knitwear lent itself to interesting interpretation, particularly as capes and ponchos, the must-haves of the season – the chunkier the better, with traditional Irish knit motifs or Scandinavian patterns. Blugirl reinterpreted the fur coat as an eco-friendly knit version with lots of fringe at the cuffs, collar and hemline. Scervino reinvented the military coat in an olive-green knit version. D&G, as in its menswear show, played with Northern European typical knit jacquard prints for sporty-feminine looks and high-heeled fur after-ski boots. More fancy and artistic was Missoni, which returned to knitwear with colorful knits and crochet patchwork forming new jackets, capes and total looks. Neogrunge black and white macrochecks also characterized some of Missoni’s outfits, as well as blanket-like colored ones. Iceberg mixed lots of red and black checked parkas and jackets.

Clashing styles and fabrics were also hot. Etro added kimonos in vibrant hues to military coats and classic menswear items. Just Cavalli showed clashing baroque sheer voile shirts and embroidered coats alongside supershort kilt skirts and fancy-printed leggings. Cavalli mixed baroque printed redingote mutton coats with long lacy white dresses.

A big comeback borrowed from the casual sportswear universe was the aviator jacket. Most inventive was Just Cavalli cutting it short and dyeing its inner shearling in blue, red and yellow with exposed edges. Etro offered it in an XL version with a wide collar, as if stolen from the model’s aviator boyfriend, and worn with comfy dark red velvet trousers and a gray sweater. C’N’C Costume National opted for a tight-fitting belted variation with more bolder details such as high cuffs (almost up to the elbows) and a wider shearling front.

—Maria Cristina Pavarini