Fur is dominating many Milan runways this season, which would be handy for this week's unusually persistent snowy weather.
From big shaggy coats, often belted, to furry little details, fur has made a firm comeback for next winter's womenswear — with a classic mink coat returning after many seasons.
Many of the looks presented Sunday and over the first five days of Milan Fashion Week have been dyed in pinks, blues, reds, yellows and fake animal prints. When they are not using real fur, the designers have made fur look-alikes, such as mohair.
Huge cuffs, hemlines and collars accented classic tailoring for both coats and dresses.
Fur is also being used to compensate for all that bare skin designers are showing: A stole wrap over a strapless dress, or long fur gloves with sleeveless jackets. There were even furry boots and furry bags.
Some of the most imaginative uses were for shawls, wraps and stoles, allowing people with more limited budgets to experiment with the looks.
"La Dolce Vita" was the name of the game at Dolce&Gabbana, where the fun-loving designing duo recalled the sacred and profane of mundane Italian life, as exposed in director Federico Fellini's 1960 movie.
The winter collection shown drew inspiration from Byzantine religious art and classic couture.
The show opened with a series of dresses in mosaic patterned silk, dripping with encrusted jewels and at times depicting an iconic image of a saint. Some of the outfits came with irreverent mini-bloomers.
To accessorize these already ornate outfits, the models wore a gilded crown, necklaces featuring a large Byzantine cross, heavy pendant earrings and velvet pumps with a thick jewel-encrusted heel.
Then came the couture look.
This evoked fancy ladies in demure sling backs and hair pulled back a la Princess Grace, wearing melange white and gray tweed suits with fitted jacket and flared skirt, or simple short-sleeved sheath dress.
Next followed a series of black silk dresses interspersed with lace, which could reference either a Sicilian widow's wardrobe (Sicily is the designing duo's trademark inspiration) or sophisticated cocktail hour attire, or even priestly garb.
The same outfits came in (papal?) white or (cardinal?) red, both liturgical colors much in vogue at the moment as cardinals prepare to gather in Rome to elect a new pope.
No matter the color, the outfits were heavily bejeweled.
Missoni gives women something to slip into next winter — and to slip out of.
The predominantly casual looks blurred the lines between lounge wear, underwear and outwear.
Many of the overcoats resembled robes, worn languidly hanging from one shoulder and fittingly were tied with a ribbon "ready to be fastened and unfastened while in motion." Underneath were thinly knit men's pajamas or silky dresses resembling negligees.
Sheath dresses were worn with unique net stockings, creating fresh textures, and knee-high boots. Panels of some of the dresses, skirts and tops were left provocatively transparent.
Shades were frosty whites, pinks or grays, along with stronger shades of gray or black.
These are looks to tuck into, which Missoni underlined sweetly by leaving chocolates on fashionistas' seats.
Designer Angela Missoni waved briefly at the fashion crowd, something she couldn't bring herself to do at the menswear previews last month, just after her brother Vittorio, the label's CEO, had disappeared after takeoff from a Venezuelan vacation island along with five others. Neither the plane nor any of the occupants have been located.
The Marni woman is decked out in fur for next winter.
Designer Consuelo Castiglioni used fur profusely. Skirts and coats have wide fur hems, enriching the tailored and constructed looks. There also were sumptuous shaggy fur coat-dresses, one in glowing gold and gray blend. And there were fur-accented arm warmers and furry clutches.
But the real piece de resistence are the fur wraps: stoles that coil around the neck and fall down the front or crisscross over the shoulders to provide some cover for strapless dresses; and two-tone shawl collars that zip snugly up the back.
Though the collection had a firmly cold-weather feel — particularly expressed in the stiff materials like tweeds and velvets that characterized the line — Marni challenged the season in many ways: Sleeveless coats. Shorts. Mini miniskirts. And flat trekking sandals, worn with bare legs.
The silhouette was mostly modest, with skirts falling to the knee and below, but Castiglioni also teased at what she called "puritanical rigor," tucking transparent panels inside her pleated skirts.
Giorgio Armani mixes geographies and eras in a complex Emporio Armani collection that proposes something of a revolution: fashion with dignity.
In the Emporio collection previewed Sunday, a bowler hat with a playful rounded rim sets a yesteryear tone, immediately contradicted by oversized Jaipur-style earrings as Armani travels time and the world in a glance.
The collection centered on a decidedly feminine silhouette.
Short organza dresses were worn under wispy overcoats. Voluminous organza tops are belted over wide miniskirts. And long structural skirts are paired with warming mohair pullovers with three-quarter length sleeves, or fetching mohair sleeveless dresses with cropped pants. For Armani this round, mohair expresses fur. Double-breasted jackets were rounded at the hem for a ladylike look, and worn with organza skirts or trousers.
Armani said through this collection he wanted to "propose something to be contemporary without losing dignity." It's a theme he has taken on in the past, the anti-vamp, using the influence of his runway to counter what has become the prevalent female media image in Italy, as sex object.
The Salvatore Ferragamo show concentrates on shapes. All in black, white and navy blue, with no prints or bold shades, the clothes have to speak for themselves.
Massimiliano Giornetti, designer for the Florentine brand best known for its accessories, gives his winter styles a voice through sculpted silhouettes and carefully chosen fabrics.
A few examples: a wide Alpaca jacket is worn with an A-line short skirt in pony leather; an oversized cashmere pullover is paired with a dainty slip with beaded hemline; and a classic overcoat becomes even more classy when worked in shiny silk.
Even fur and leather are worked to highlight the artistry of the collection, starting with suede stitched in smocking, or beaver shorn to look like satin.
The famous Ferragamo shoe next winter is a knee-high boot with pointed toe and relatively low stiletto heel, cut out at the instep and laced up the barelegged back. The latest Ferragamo bag is a shopper with metal inserts.
Laura Biagiotti had her mind on Rome for her winter collection.
Not only was the ribbing of her cashmere outfits reminiscent of the sculpted lines of a classic marble column, but the Roman-born designer relaunched her signature "Roma" perfume, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.
According to Biagiotti, the brand has sold 80 million bottles of the fragrance since its birth in 1988 and if lined up they would stretch from the Cinecitta film studios in Rome to Hollywood. A nice thought ahead of Sunday night's Oscar awards ceremony.