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Beauty looks at Fashion Week should complement a designer's vision and help cement an image and theme in your mind when you view a collection. We saw some spectacular looks in New York, and the next two cities didn't disappoint either. While New York Fashion Week feels like a marathon, London and Milan are more like whirlwind sprints. In case it went by too quickly for you, stop here and breathe for a second, before we head to Paris. Click through for the best and most interesting beauty looks from London and Milan.
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Milan Fashion Week is where editorial meets commercial in the most natural way. Click through to see our ten favorite collections of the week.
MILAN--As much as former Fashionista editor Britt Aboutaleb wants the velvet trend to die, I want the pinstripe trend to succeed. Apparently, so does Salvatore Ferragamo designer Massimiliano Giornetti. Nearly half the looks in yesterday's collection were pinstripe, and when they weren't, we saw dots, houndstooth, and check. It was all very '80s, and for a girl like me who loves power suiting, it was good. From the bow collars to the slicked back hair, it's obvious that Giornetti's woman is sentimental for Armani and could do without the current minimalist trend.
MILAN--Young designers often find it difficult to balance two separate collections. Unlike the Karl Lagerfelds of the world, these emerging talents--Marios Schwab, Richard Nicoll, Jason Wu come to mind--don't typically have massive teams to help them complete their workload. Sometimes, their talent allows them to overcome the challenge. Sometimes, it doesn't. For Christopher Kane, who designs both his namesake collection and Versace's Versus, this hasn't been a problem.
MILAN--I couldn't help humming Boy George's "Karma Chameleon" as I walked out of the Dolce & Gabbana show this afternoon. Playing up the late '80s vibe they put out at the D&G show, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce created a collection of old school contrasts: skinny girls (Arizona Muse, Abbey Lee) dressed up like boys in tuxedos and brogues; curvy girls (Isabeli Fontana, Candice Swanepoel) dressed up like starlets, literally covered in stars. It was fun, pretty, and, most of all, wearable beneath the bells and whistles.
MILAN--Consuelo Castiglioni designs wearable clothes for a woman who likes things a bit off kilter. If there's a plaid, it's hand-drawn. Earrings? Oversize buttons. Fur? Pink and green, please. This season, Castiglioni brought quite a ladylike element to her wares, using fur gloves, peter pan collars, and a few of those molded, mid-century couture shapes that we've seen so often this season. Her shoes--mostly platform Mary Janes--looked fresh yet familiar. And that's what makes Marni so special. Castiglioni's pieces are so retro yet so quirky that they don't really ever date.
MILAN--Before I get into my morning adventure, let me explain the fashion bus. At pretty much every fashion week other than New York, there is a bus that those who don't hire a private car can take from show to show. In general you need to have registered with whomever runs the fashion week to be able to use this service, but it's common knowledge that they're pretty loose with this rule. In London, I use the fashion bus now and again. In Paris and Milan I rarely take it, mostly because every time I have I've been late to the next show. But this morning after leaving Bottega Veneta, I was in a bind. We were in the middle of nowhere, without an available taxi in site. I saw a sign for the bus and decided to wait in line. Soon enough it pulled up, with several empty buses behind it. Unfortunately, only about five people were allowed to board. Why? Because the rest of us--I'd say about 10 people in total--didn't have our Milan Fashion Week passes. (Some claimed that they had forgotten theirs--I simply kept silent, because I hadn't registered officially.) But the Camera Moda attendants wouldn't budge. No one was going to be allowed access without a badge. (Camera Moda is the organization that puts together MFW.) Usually at this point I would have scooted off, but then things started to get good, so I decided to stick around to see what would happen.
MILAN--Raf Simon's cited 1950s couture, Diane Arbus' tunic dresses, furniture designer Jacques Adnet, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe--one of my favorite fashion photographers--as inspiration for his Fall 2011 Jil Sander collection. Those references are easy to spot, but my visceral reaction to the runway was a bit less high brow.
MILAN--Sportmax's fall collection was inspired by Scandinavia: Ingmar Bergman, Arne Jacobsen, Hans Christian Andersen. Whether or not that would have been obvious if we hadn't read the show notes, we're not sure. But what we can say is that we liked most of it, especially the tweeds, and the accents of patent leather in peplums, t-shirts, and belts. The cadet blue turtleneck swing dress with a panel of chenille was a key look for us, as was the brick red silk shirt dress at the end, made sexy with a cut-out back. We liked the terracotta colorway that emerged about half way through, as well as the fair isle knits. But we could have done without the strange floral numbers that closed the show.
MILAN--I barely made it to Emporio Armani, but more on that later. What I did see when I got there was Tina Turner and flat shoes on nearly every model. Oh, and an adorable puppy, who even his escort couldn't help smiling at. The look was both luxe and lax--a modern version of what Annie Hall might have worn in the '80s, if you will. And lots of black! Nearly every look was black from head to toe, save for a couple pops of blue and green. There was lots for the Armani devotee, but also for the dabbler.
MILAN--The first thing you noticed about Tomas Maier's fall Bottega Veneta collection wasn't the Tippi Hedren-style French twists, or the the light, bright overcoats. Instead, it was the tufts of leather sticking out from the label's classic basket weave handbags. These roughed-up styles illustrated what Maier believes to be the crux of this collection. "We wanted to push the boundaries, to experiment with technique and craftsmanship to an extreme degree," he said in the show notes. "The result is very particular, with a mix of control and passion that I think reflects the mood of the moment."
MILAN--Today, a friend asked me if I was a Versace girl. I said, "Well, I'm more of a Versus girl," because I'd essentially cut off my pinky toe for anything Christopher Kane has designed. But then I remembered, while I probably wouldn't wear one of Donatella Versace's wool day dresses--such as the black shift with a curvy road of blue snakeskin traveling up the front--I'd sacrifice quite a bit to score one of those evening dresses. If I was January Jones, or anyone who took frequent walks down the red carpet, I would most definitely want to be in Versace. That's not to say those day dresses aren't perfect for a certain person. For the lady who considers herself a tasteful maximalist, Versace has created the ultimate wardrobe. I was particularly drawn to the navy leather dress coat, featuring a pleated skirt and adorned with burgundy leather buttons. And the black jumper, with a purple and yellow tulip climbing up the front. Oh, and the blue and green suede shirt dress accessorized with a green fur collar. (Okay, I changed my mind. Maybe I wouldn't mind owning just one daytime piece....)
MILAN--Anna Molinari moved away from her colorful Capri prints for Blumarine's Fall 2011 runway collection. Instead, she focused on glossy basics. In the first group of looks, there was lots of double faced wool and knits in navy, grey, and black. (Each group entered the stage together and then began walking one after another.) The second introduced a pop of primary and secondary colors, done in rich, saturated hues. Finally, the Italian designer went back to her roots, with a bit of sexy black lace. Out of everything, we liked the knit trousers best, mostly because they looked flattering and insanely comfortable. Oh, and it was nice to see Coco, Stam, Chanel, et al. together on the runway.
MILAN--The theme of Moschino's show this morning was "the fashionable crowd," and from the looks of the label's invitation--a pink flip book featuring a silhouette of a girl overrun by roses--I predicted the collection was bound to be overtly feminine and flower-y. Feminine, it was--full of flowers, it was not.
MILAN--The Prada show began an hour late. (Apparently there was a problem with the models; several were replaced at the last minute, according to a catwalker in my hotel elevator.) But for the first time in my life, I brought a book to a runway show, so I honestly didn’t notice how long it was taking until Leah texted me, saying, “Has it really not started yet?” But really, who cares how long it took? All frustrations were put aside when Miuccia Prada sent out her first look: A black coat dress with a blush fur collar, topped with an aviator cap.
MILAN--So yes. Katie Holmes sat front row at Max Mara this morning. So did the New Yorker's David Remnick. Why was he there? Well, who really knows. It could have something to do with advertising. It could have something to do with a friend. It could have something to do with neither of those things. But really, it was a good show for a high brow journalist to take in. Remnick surely imagines New Yorker readers wearing this kind of ultra-luxe, ultra-discreet clothing. (Sigh. We all have our ideal reader....) But I didn't have too much time to ponder what he was thinking, given the desirability of the looks being presented on the runway.