Huffpost Style

Italian Designers Battle Recession With Romance

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MILAN — Italian designers are in the mood for recession romance, combating hard times with soft, sensual and above all safe styles.

There was a lot of buzz about the sexy styles on the Spring-Summer 2010 runway: short hemlines, lingerie looks and sheer fabrics. But most of the time it was nothing more than the Italians reverting to what they do best.

Italian fashion owes its red light fame to the late Gianni Versace in the 1980s. The sexy torch was then carried on by Dolce&Gabbana, and later by Tom Ford for Gucci, Roberto Cavalli and Versace's sister Donatella. Even staid Prada presented a corsetry collection several seasons ago.

So in times of crisis why not play it safe and give the customer what she knows best?

At this round of preview showings, which officially ended Tuesday, designers opted to romanticize the look, with cotton bloomers and corsets taken right out of grandma's trousseau and lacey items veiled in chiffon. The new printed chiffon apron seen throughout the week covers many sins. It can also be used to spiff up old or recycled clothes.

Dainty bows on dresses, belts and shoes underline the demure look of the season, while the butterfly motifs seen at Biagiotti among others define its lightness.

The general look was very short with lots of micro minis and short shorts. But styles were generally loose (except at Versace where they were skin tight) with the bubble the favorite hemline.

The one risky item in the new collections is the body suit worn as outerwear covered by nothing more than a flimsy cardigan. Let's hope this was a runway ruse and not an invitation to walk around town in urban swimsuits.

At a time when designers know enough to let the customer pick and choose, they offered lots of cute summer dresses, long and short jackets with marked shoulders, and trousers both loose and lean. The shorts suit is the latest version of the original power suit. The favorite trouser look is wide at the hips and narrow at the ankle.

Where fabrics are concerned along with the profuse use of cotton, linen and gauzy chiffon, the designers introduce transparent plastic which they use for outfits as well as bags and shoes.

The color palette centers on nude or if you prefer neutral colors from fleshy creams and beiges along with black and white, youthful prints and spurts of bold red blue and yellow.

In the footwear department things continue for the most part to by very high and usually platformed and open-toed. The buckled ankle strapping and lacing tend to give the sandals an edge, softened by the occasional use of bows. Flats are few and far between, except at Armani.

Makeup is natural and hairstyles girlish.

Following is a list of fashion musts from Milan's latest fashion week:

ARMANI: The sweetest of bubble skirts

BOTTEGA VENETA: The perfect linen tunic dress right for every occasion

CAVALLI: Printed chiffon aprons – the best veiling in town

DOLCE&GABBANA: Ever so sensual bras and panties

FENDI: The recession bag – many bags in one with its changeable outer coverings

FERRE: For those into body suits, a gilded number with matching train

GUCCI: The perfect little black dress with contemporary metallic embroidery

MISSONI: Feathery knits as light as chiffon

PRADA: Crystal beaded gowns with matching beaded footwear

VERSACE: Anything and everything for the gal who likes it hot