Sparkle of Milan fashion lifts somber mood

Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:08pm EST
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

MILAN (Reuters) - Creating opera-inspired dresses and glittering coats, Italian designers have greeted the global economic downturn with collections that stand out and sparkle.

Fashion theory may state that when times get tough, hemlines drop but several top names at Milan's autumn/winter 2009/2010 catwalk shows have defied this, slashing skirts and dresses mid-thigh and making them glisten.

The doyen of Italian fashion, Giorgio Armani, looked to update 1980s fashion with glossy fabrics and shiny black caps and long gloves at his womenswear show Friday.

He studded little black dresses with diamante ornaments at the front or on the side, and put sparkly beading all over longer evening gowns. Boots were also embroidered.

The collection for his second line, Emporio Armani, shown on Thursday, also had short skirts, with jewelry that hung around the hip or on jackets.

He also dressed models in tights and sparkly socks.

"I need to see an elegant woman walking around," Armani told reporters after the Emporio Armani run, calling it "an optimistic catwalk show."

Italian designer duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana took inspiration from the "fascinating world of theater ... from the spectacular costumes to the plush gowns worn by the ladies who lunch" for their D&G line, paying homage to opera singer Maria Callas.   Continued...

<p>Models display creations by Italian designer Alberta Ferretti during her Fall/Winter 2009/10 women's collection show at Milan Fashion Week February 27, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Helgren</p>