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MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Next winter will be more colorful and retro for womenswear, designers at Milan fashion week showed, with brands making bolder statements in their creations as customers regain optimism and seek newness for their wardrobes.
The omnipresence of fur played up a luxury feel at the autumn-winter 2010/2011 shows while an emphasis on sexiness was clear from Prada's dresses with fitted bodices and ruffles delineated busts to Versace's asymmetrical creations.
Designers injected doses of color from red and orange at Giorgio Armani to pink at Bottega Veneta.
A pickup in turnover for Italy's fashion industry is forecast this year after it fell 15 percent last year to 56.5 billion euros ($76.77 billion) in 2009 as the crisis hit demand.
"Even though the economy is showing some signs of recovery ... it's important the designer thinks of ... the woman who can afford to buy the clothes going up and down the runway," Ken Downing, fashion director at Neiman Marcus, said.
"We're very pleased, it's all about newness and newness is paramount. Women are not buying something they already own."
Designers mixed leather, fur and wool on clothes and at times took inspiration from male wardrobes.
Known for his polished elegance, Armani presented square-shouldered jackets over short shirts that were reminiscent of the 1980s while sleeveless dresses were covered in tiger print or embroidery. He also put capes over dresses and toques with strips that lay like a fringe on models' heads.
Gucci had cashmere coats and collarless cropped jackets, paired with silk tops and skinny trousers with folded waists and metal plate belts. Dresses with metal collars and cuffs had cuts exposing skin. They were worn with over-the-knee suede boots.
Patterned Chantilly lace dresses with sequins or ostrich feathers for evening wear were worn with lace stockings.
"It's absolutely full-blown luxury, every fur you can imagine," fashion journalist Hilary Alexander said of the shows.
Prada's silhouettes cast a late 1950s/early 1960s look with jackets with doubled-up collars in fur and knit and matching skirts. Dresses bore wallpaper-style patterns in red, mustard and brown and were worn with wool socks decorated with frills.
For Versace's biker chic line, designer Donatella Versace put zips on leather and suede jackets, trousers and fitted dresses, which were worn with boots with chunky heels.
Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier put bandeau leather tops and wool felt sleeves and collars on sleeveless silk dresses. He also highlighted the season's trend for ankle or calf length boots with his black wedge booties.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana highlighted the sartorial work of their Dolce & Gabbana brand with tailored black jackets. They also presented black lace and satin dresses.
There were also floral, polka dot and animal print designs.
The duo showed snowflake patterned knits worn with chiffon skirts and furry boots for their second D&G line.
Armani picked an "Uptown Girl" look for his Emporio Armani line, with short skirts paired with eco-fur and wool jackets.
Celebrating the 40th birthday of his brand, Roberto Cavalli picked a bohemian look with military-inspired tapestry brocade tailcoats and mixed fur jackets. Models wore transparent trousers over shorts and floating dresses in tulle.
Accessories played a strong role in all shows and buyers noted a more wearable and comfortable shape for bags.
"I wouldn't say that (designers) are being cautious," said Marigay McKee, fashion and beauty director at Harrods. "I would say it's more of an evolution than a revolution."