MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Italian fashionistas on Wednesday hit back at foreign media reports that their latest creations were for "bimbos" inspired by the sex scandals surrounding Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's private life.
In reviews of Milan's spring/summer 2010 womenswear fashion shows on Monday, the Financial Times and International Herald Tribune had linked the abundance of short and sexy dresses this past week to the 73-year-old prime minister.
Berlusconi has been hit by a spate of scandals surrounding his private life in recent months, including allegations that a businessman paid women to sleep with him. His wife announced in May that she wanted a divorce because of his womanizing.
"I was very surprised .. I did not expect this judgment. I find it without motive, unjustified," Mario Boselli, chairman of Italy's national chamber of fashion, told Reuters.
"I saw at least 50 shows ... certainly I did not see that what was written and I believe that this fashion week was dominated by balance and great elegance, certainly nothing vulgar and uselessly provocative."
Italy's fashion capital is known for top names such as Giorgio Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, who all held their womenswear shows in the last few days.
As the warm season brings out more of the skin, many designers made sure to show off the flesh with bare backs, one-shouldered outfits and high hemlines -- from small dresses and skirts to 1950s-style high-waisted culottes.
The Financial Times wrote that the scandals surrounding Berlusconi's private life had "filtered down into designers' imaginations and from there on to the catwalk."
"There hasn't been this much flesh on display since the first inklings of an economic downturn were felt oh so many seasons ago," reporter Vanessa Friedman wrote.
The International Herald Tribune entitled its review "Blame it on Berlusconi."
"'Viva la Bimbo' would seem to be the rallying cry of this summer 2010 fashion season," Suzy Menkes wrote, making note of the "veline" or scantily clad showgirls on Italian television.
Italian leading daily newspapers were full of the story.
"I don't think Berlusconi influences us," designer Donatella Versace was quoted as saying in Corriere della Sera. "I didn't see anything vulgar on the catwalks in the last few days."
Additional reporting by Philip Pullella, editing by Paul Casciato