- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2008

MILAN, ITALY (AP) - Baubles and bangles have returned to the Milan runway after several seasons locked tightly in the jewelry box. Even at Jil Sander, the most minimalist of labels, diamond studded earrings sparkled from the models’ pierced ears.

In general the jewelry is down to earth, with the novelty of pieces of wood used to fashion necklaces and bracelets. Ethnic jewelry of the silver-and-stones kind is also popular. Earrings tend to be large and dangling, like the ones at Marni made out of heavy stone and crystal appliques.

Bracelets usually come in strands, wrapping around the wrist like a cuff. Cavalli chose a more classic style in glittering gold and stone to go with his mini ball gowns.

Gucci was meant to be the highlight of a slow day in Milan, but although chocked with wearable styles, it never reached the fashion spheres of past seasons. Gucci did stick with the bejeweled theme, with large brooches holding gowns together and a palette based on precious stone hues.

In the evening, the fashion crowd gathered for a gala dinner presentation of actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s video clip, directed by Dennis Hopper, to promote the latest Tod’s bag. Named “Pashmy Dream,” it is a large ultrasoft leather sack adorned with copious leather tassels. The actress is in Milan for the presentation.

Other shows of the day included Marni by Consuelo Castiglioni and Roberto Cavalli.

GUCCI

For summer wear, Gucci’s creative director Frida Giannini, an accessory expert, opted to limit jewelry to large precious stones, including amethyst, agate and crystal, which more often than not she used as embroidery for her eveningwear, including the latest Gucci black suede clutch.

Daywear at Gucci is all about holidaying, starting with the crisp summer suit with boyish jacket and cropped trouser, worn with a cocky straw hat and the new leather backpack.

The Safari style pops up everywhere, from miniskirt and rolled shorts to strapless jumpsuit. The sporty outfits are spiffed up by gold zippers and large pockets. Mini kaftans offer a poolside alternative that can also drift into the summer night.

As in many of the collections seen on the runway this week, footwear at Gucci comes close to being stilts, with an ultrahigh heel compensated by a thick platform sole.

For evening, Giannini envelopes her women in ultra light, long gowns, that could double for tents. Large brooches sewn into the fabric and made out of precious stones hold these gowns together.

The Gucci palette is also based on precious stone hues, plus the summer favorite _ turquoise.

MARNI

The collection described in the designer’s fashion notes as a “contemporary take on couture fashion,” centers around coordination. Everything blends together, from the dress or skirt, to the tops, to the two-tone cardigans, which accompanied many of the outfits. Intricate embroidery with raffia, tulle and little round disks, enhance the sophisticated feel of the collection.

Jewelry at Marni is larger than life, with heavy use of geometric and floral shapes.

CAVALLI

In a surprise shift of fashion gears, Roberto Cavalli, known for his racy styles, chose sweet over sexy for next season.

His latest collection was dotted with embroidered mini gowns, reminiscent of an imaginary “couture Barbie,” especially when shown off by the long-legged, demurely coifed models. There were also plenty of shimmery shorts and cropped jackets in the collection for Barbie to change into after the ball.

But be not fooled. As designer Cavalli said after the show, “Naivite is not part of my vocabulary.”

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