- The Washington Times - Friday, September 26, 2008

MILAN, ITALY (AP) - “Grin and bear it,” seems to be the message coming off the Milan runway as Fashion Week for next summer comes to an end.

Everyone knows the fashion world is suffering from the present world economic crisis _ not only in sales but also in fashion buzz. Every round there are fewer shows and fewer people _ both buyers and press who attend them.

“We buy very carefully these days,” said Bloomingdale’s fashion director Stephanie Solomon, in town for the preview collections, which move onto Paris over the weekend.

On the other side of the runway, designers have come up with an antidote for tightened purse strings: Happy clothes.

“We wanted to offer a smile,” Stefano Gabbana of Dolce&Gabbana said of their show based on silk pajamas.

Throughout the week, designers have been showing bright colors and basic styles to create what Giorgio Armani, referring to his collection, called “easy to wear” clothes.

The overall look is light and fluid with a preference for chiffon and jersey over stiff cottons and linens.

Lace resembling children’s cutouts and colorful floral and geometric prints underline the upbeat mood for next summer. The styles are demure rather than sexy, with the accent on the back, from cutout to billowing.

Jewelry, the happiest of accessories, is back after several seasons of austerity.

Donatella Versace, whose collection closed the round of big names showing this week, chose a big heart to express good cheer. Fashioned out of the same material as the outfit, her hearts, which appeared on either the front or back of her daytime sheaths and sumptuous evening gowns, resembled giant brooches holding it all together.


Donatella Versace, known for her sex pot styles, kept things calm for next summer in keeping with the current preference for relaxed fashion. The clothes were tight but not tawdry, with Donatella hanging her fashion on a simple above-the-knee sheath.

For a more dazzling effect, Donatella offers the look in gold crocodile printed fabric.

Daytime includes cropped trousers worn with small jackets, and pretty dresses in a cheerful pop art print.

Bold gold zippers appear as decoration on many outfits.

For evening, Versace presents a series of long, luxurious evening gowns. A short strapless dress in bright yellow silk, with its wide skirt made up of swirling fabric, picks up on a trend seen in other collections _ the couture corolla.

Sandaled footwear at Versace is metallic and tall, but nothing compared to the heights reached in some other shows, which caused stumbles and one tumble on the runway.

The theme of Donatella’s latest collection is the heart. Made out of fabric, it appeared on either the front or back of her daytime sheaths as well as her sumptuous eveningwear.

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