MILAN (Reuters) - A kaleidoscopic fairytale by Gucci and Fay's military-inspired looks opened Milan's womenswear fashion show on Wednesday with a display of clothing and accessories for spring and summer 2017.
For the next six days the Italian capital of fashion will be the setting for runway shows, art exhibitions, boutique openings and events as fashionistas, buyers, designers and bloggers flock to the city from around the world.
In Gucci's magic lanterns collection, layered and ruffled gowns, gold decorations and outfits echoing a hippy style took center stage. Dragons, jelly fish and parrots decorated coats and dresses and two zebras stood on a big orange fur coat.
To the beat of melancholic violins, models strutted down a starred and striped pink carpet in a former rail station dressed up in metallic pink panelling.
Many wore glittered glasses or intricate fascinators and turbans, with studded platforms on their feet, in creative designer Alessandro Michele's fourth women's collection since being appointed in January last year.
"In this collection all the clothes tell a story steeped in wonder, phantasmagoria and unorthodoxy," read a designer's note.
Only steps away, models for Fay wore military-inspired clothing and gladiator-style sandals, softened by embroidered tops, Asian details, flowers and patterns echoing 1970s style.
The green, blue and grey military army tones were leavened by metal sequins, suede and golden accessories, including practical hobo bags.
"We tried to keep pace with changing trends, using elements of street clothing, sports as well as contemporary lines," said Tommaso Aquilano, who since 2010 has been creative director with Roberto Rimondi for Fay's brand, part of Italian luxury group Tod's.
Aquilano added that inspiration came from the 1970s and the 1990s, "moments in which fashion went through significant evolutions".
But the collection, defined by the designers as grunge and non-conformist, is a coherent continuation of the last seasons, in which field and bush jackets, the group's most recognized item of clothing, feature prominently.
"With clients wanting each collection to feel personal, we tried to find different variations on the products so that so that each woman feels unique," Aquilani told Reuters.
The designers highlighted the need to appeal to younger generations, with more youthful and fresh looks, at a time when the sector as a whole is experiencing weaker demand in Asia and from tourists in Europe and the United States.
Italy's national chamber of fashion forecasts its textile and fashion sector to grow to 62 billion euros in revenues by the end of 2016, or 83.6 billion euros if jewelry and cosmetics are taken into account - up 1.4 percent from 2015.
"It is hard to predict what will happen, but Italian fashion is holding up well, as our brands are those that set the trends," said Carlo Capasa, the chamber's president.
Editing by Mark Heinrich