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MFW: Gianfranco Ferre plays the future as stiff and severe

February 28, 2009 |  1:30 pm

Rage_ferre MILAN -- Jackets with "Star Trek" shoulders, skirts with boxy hiplines, and a surfeit of '80s-era Thierry Mugler references combined to make the second Gianfranco Ferre collection designed by young talents Roberto Rimondi and Tomasso Aquilano stiff and overwrought.

With drawn-on eyebrows and molded hairstyles, the models looked mean and militaristic in their sculpted uniforms. Things did soften up a bit for evening, with crepe ruffles curving around elegant black column gowns and sculptural bows sprouting from pleated white blouses.

Still,  it's difficult to imagine women embracing such a severe look in hard times, and even more difficult to imagine them embracing yet another new incarnation of an old brand.

Indeed, Ferre's future is very much in question following the recent financial trouble of parent company IT Holdings. If there is one thing this recession might be good for, it's convincing fashion powers that be that not every house needs to live on past its founder.

--Booth Moore

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A fall runway look from Gianfranco Ferre's women's collection during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Alberto Pellaschiar / Associated Press