Milan designers announce a return to ready-to-wear elegance

MILAN — The Milan Fashion Week previews that concluded Monday announced a return to more formal dress, confirming a trend seen on the red carpet at the Oscars the night before.

Milan designers indulged in fringe, beading and elegant lines. Dark colors prevailed, but were tempered with bursts of tangerine, turquoise, icy blue and greens as seasons continue to blur on fashion runways.

Some highlights from the last day of fall/winter shows, anchored by Giorgio Armani:

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IRREVERENT, INVENTIVE ARMANI

Giorgio Armani may be known for his jackets, but trousers were the headliners of his ultra-elegant collection for next fall and winter.

The designer's notes didn't offer a vocabulary for a new silhouette that smartly merges trousers with a skirt, but said the collection invokes "a new adaptation of the Armani style: free, aware, subtly irreverent."

The look was an evolution of the tulip trouser introduced some seasons ago, updated for the new collection with a sweeping skirt in the shape of twin tulip petals that meld seamlessly into a snug pant leg.

The skirt element of the combination was mostly pleated, and the trouser legs, visible from behind, sometimes were done in contrasting colors — red on black, for example.

That particular pairing was completed with a red blouse with a standing ruffle that framed the face, a two-button blazer and bowler hat.

Pleating details were repeated on three-dimensional bell cuffs and high Victorian-like necklines.

Another new silhouette was a bell-shaped top, working as a tunic over silky trousers or layered over a longer skirt for an evening dress.

The color palate included a lot of red and black combos, segueing into colorful green and blues or red and purples. Velvet and furs created volumes and softness.

The final look was a glimmering multi-color drop-waist gown worn with a crystal-studded head scarf and long beads for a refined hippy look.

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CINEMATIC TEMPTATIONS BY MILA SCHOEN

Alessandro de Benedetti says he sought to create a dreamy effect in his Mila Schoen collection for fall/winter with saturated colors and playful detailing. The dream is anchored by English tailoring.

The collection featured flowing pleated skirts with patterns hidden in the folds, pops of cherry, polka dot or animal prints that appeared with every step.

Masculine tailoring gave definition to the silhouette, from a classic Prince of Wales trench inspired by the wardrobes of Roger Moore and Tony Curtis in the 1970s TV series "The Persuaders" to the wooly jean jacket in bright shades of mohair that referenced Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho."

The dress of the season had mirrored pinstripes on a bias, creating a dreamlike parallel dimension.

"I like the idea of seeing this as if dreaming of them. There are things in strong contradiction, a masculine cut is super fun with a cherry or a heart detail," de Benedetti said.

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IN MEMORIAM

Fashion Week closed on a somber note in Milan, with a memorial service for the late editor of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani.

The fashion crowd filled the pews of the vast Duomo di Milano cathedral to bid farewell to Sozzani, who died in December at the age of 66 after a yearlong illness and three decades dedicated to promoting Italian fashion.

Giorgio Armani, Donatella Versace, Miuccia Prada and Angela Missoni were among the Milan designers attending the service. Designers Valentino Garavani and Victoria Beckham attended as well.

Models Kate Moss, Eva Herzigova, Naomi Campbell and Carla Bruni were on hand, as was Conde Nast artistic director Anna Wintour and former Premier Matteo Renzi.

Sozzani was credited with making Vogue Italia an influential voice in the fashion world during her 28 years at the helm.

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