Milan Fashion Week Wrap

From Gucci's retro dresses to rock'n'roll menswear at Dolce & Gabbana, Milan Fashion Week brought an invasion of romance and color, Isabel Wilkinson reports. See highlights from the runway.

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Gucci

Milan brought a heavy dose of retro glamour—and nowhere more so than at Gucci, where a 1970s lady swaggered down the runway in vivid blues, yellows, reds, and greens. There were lush crimson furs, jabot blouses, slim, belted jackets and high-waisted pants, thigh-high boots, red lips, and yards of flowing silk. For evening, sheer gowns blossoming with appliqué flowers (each pedal is hand-sewn) came down the runway over hotpants—which showed a lot of leg. The house celebrated its 90th anniversary by unveiling its newest collaboration: the Gucci Fiat 500, which made its debut at the show.

Luca Bruno / AP Photo

Marni

At Marni, designer Consuelo Castiglioni tread a line between zany and luxe: color-blocked dresses were paired with belted fur coats, chunky wooden heels, and large beaded statement necklaces. A striped and beaded dress was paired with a fur coat, over which came a cropped shearling jacket. The explosion of texture was matched by an explosion of color and print, as geometric shapes blanketed the runway. As Cathy Horyn wrote of the collection: "If you have burned out on Marni in recent seasons, you might want to take a look at this collection."

Antonio Calanni / AP Photo

Dolce & Gabbana

With live-streamed shows, immediate eCommerce, and front-row Twitter pictures, there's no question that social networking has sped up the metabolism of the fashion industry. This was no more evident than on the runway at Dolce & Gabbana, where large screens projected live backstage footage and tweets and text messages that displayed comments such as: "D&G are so cool!!!!" and "Ciao!!!!" The collection picked up on this youthful vibe, with bold prints, short skirts, skinny pants, and a rock'n'roll vibe. Fabrics were, as always, loud: musical-note prints, large cartoon stars, and the line's signature leopard print. And from the looks of the structured jackets, bowler hats, brogues, neckties, and suspenders, it looks like the menswear trend will be sticking around for at least another year.

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Jil Sander

Go big, or go home! That was the lesson at Jil Sander, where designer Raf Simons sent a series of color-blocked knits and voluminous shapes down the runway on Saturday. The collection developed the puffy silhouette—think Tilda Swinton at the Golden Globes—that took hold last season. The collection featured knits in every shape and size—and lots and lots of volume. A bell-shaped coat-dress, a velvet cocoon, and billowing floor-length skirts. As Women's Wear Daily wrote of the collection, Simons took "a firm stance against mass luxury," making the case, instead, that "high fashion… needs some high-mindedness."

Giuseppe Cacace / AFP / Getty Images

Missoni

Behold, a coat of many colors. Many of them. At Missoni's Fall show on Sunday, there was the usual Missoni flare: that distinctly Italian mixture of bright color, whimsical prints, and lots of fringe. But while past seasons have seen different levels of color extreme, this season, Missoni's brilliance was relatively low-wattage. Pastels ruled the runway—inspired, as designer Angela Missoni explained, by "enchanted and enchanting fairies." Models glided down a grand staircase during the show.

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Fendi

Karl Lagerfeld's fur-filled collection for Fendi was a hit of Milan. Inspired by Dadaist German artist Kurt Schwitters, the show was set against a collage backdrop. The clothes, too, retained this collage effect, as cape-jackets, slouch pants, and knee-length skirts came in wool with patches of fur. The collection was coat-heavy, elaborating on the cocoon silhouette we've seen all over the runways this season. And the furs were plentiful: long vests over cropped trousers, fur neckpieces over a black cocktail dress, and an oversized multi-colored fur over a lace dress for evening. How to explain this barrage of fur? As Lagerfeld put it: "Fur is hair, so one can make implants."

Filippo Monteforte / AFP / Getty Images

Versace

This collection seemed to do it all—from functional separates to bold, look-at-me party dresses. Dresses came in all lengths and colors, from those with a stark silhouette that recalled military uniforms—to brighter dresses embellished with flowers. Pops of color came in the form of a green fur neck-wrap, a purpled belted dress, and—a collection highlight—a yellow mini-fringe dress that shook as the model strutted down the runway. Then, of course, came the high-wattage gowns for evening: with great feathered plumes, slits up-to-there, and corset tops. After the fashion at this year's Academy Awards, one thing's for sure: next year could benefit from a bigger dose of Versace.

Antonio Calanni / AP Photo

Versace

Donatella Versace took a bow to wild applause after her show. As Cathy Horyn wrote of the collection: "Ms. Versace wisely turned the detail into abstract swirls set into coats and mini sheaths, sometimes interpreted with a coiling bit of colored python on a knee-length black or white sheath."

Chris Moore / Catwalking / Getty Images

Prada

It was a far cry from Miuccia Prada's last collection—which included neon stripes, bananas, monkeys, furs, and floppy beach hats. For Fall/Winter 2011, it couldn't have been more different: color-blocked skirts, low-belted coats and dresses, maryjane boots, and peter pan collars. There was a schoolgirl charm to the clothes, and, as Prada explained: "The collection is not exactly childlike, but more ingénue…. Women should look more innocent, rather than making girls look like women."

Luca Bruno / AP Photo

Pucci

This season saw cocoon coats at Marni, low-belted dresses at Prada, and curtain-skirts at Jil Sander. At Pucci: cleavage. Lots of it. Peter Dundas' collection, which showed Saturday in Milan, featured figure-hugging dresses in forest green with appliqué lace peaking out the top. The house's signature bold prints were more subdued this season, and evening featured gold brocade on black velvet. As WWD wrote of the collection: "These are clothes for extroverts with perfect bodies and bank accounts."

Luca Bruno / AP Photo

Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta's Creative Director, Tomas Maier, who was painted in the New Yorker earlier this year as a man of precision with an obsession for function, had unlikely inspiration this season: Michelangelo Antonioni's 1964 movie Red Desert. There were black lace cocktail dresses with pops of color, color-blocked skirt suits, and, for evening, folded silk ball gowns. As the program notes explained in this mouthful: "For fall, Bottega Veneta presents a collection poised between restraint and exuberance. Juxtaposing clean lines with elaborate surfaces, it aims not for balance but for a synthesis of unlike elements, with each refined piece of clothing and relaxed accessory containing within it a wealth of detail, technique, and embellishment. But according to the Telegraph's Hilary Alexander, the collection had another association instead: Mad Men.

Luca Bruno / AP Photo

Giorgio Armani

The theme of Giorgio Armani's Fall collection was simple enough: Boudoir. But the translation of that theme was far from literal, as Armani sent cuff pants down the runway alongside structured coats, mid-calf dresses, and nude-colored furs. The feel of the collection was ephemeral and based on fantasy—yet felt wearable and ready for the streets of New York next fall. There was humor, too, as Armani closed the show with a dress printed with a giant photo of himself. But that didn't stop the critics, who raved about the tailoring and "gorgeous evening dresses." As WWD described it, this was "one of his best collections in memory."

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Eye for Accessories

High-wattage dresses may get all the attention on the runway, but the week also saw a handful of accessories that had the crowd wishing away the seasons till next Fall. Continuing a trend from the collections shown in New York, there were several luscious furs in Milan—each in a color more vibrant than the last. An emerald neck warmer at Versace, several purple fur coats and wraps at Gucci, and, perhaps the most fun, Prada hats to make you look like you just stuck your finger in a socket. A real star in the accessories department, however, came at Dolce & Gabbana, where musical notes, leopard prints, stars, and stripes converged in a single outfit.