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Fashion Diary: At Milan Fashion Week, fall 2010 collections look backward to 'Mad Men' era

February 26, 2010 |  4:25 pm
Prada dg milan fashion week "I wanted to see something that wasn't trying so hard to be new." That was how Marc Jacobs explained his fall 2010 collection last week in New York. And the sentiment seems to be carrying over to Milan, where so far, designers are banking on retro femininity for fall, from D&G's ski bunnies to Prada's sexy secretaries.

Using a set that brought to mind Internet Age information overload, with walls covered in pie graphs and fragments of geopolitical jargon, Miuccia Prada harkened back to the simpler "Mad Men" era of padded bums and beehive hairdos, while referencing some of her own past work.

This was the first Prada women's show to be webcast live, beaming her clothes around the world in a nanosecond. But on the runway, the collection -- including A-line leather skirts as glossy as a vinyl record; elaborately embroidered, jet-beaded skirts; and coats that must have required hours of old-fashioned handwork -- made a case for slowing down. In the background, a slow jazz soundtrack mixed with the clicking sounds of a typewriter.‬

The clothes were prim but also a tad subversive, as if to say that underneath the proper façade of the woman who wears them lurks the soul of a sex kitten. There were even a couple of fuller-figure models, suggesting that "Mad Men's" sexy secretary Joan Harris (née Holloway) may well be the fashion icon of the fall season.

The dominant look was the fit-and-flare dress in sketchy windowpane checks, with a full, swishy skirt. Some versions also had darts emphasizing the bust, or ruffles framing it.
Other key pieces included A-line skirts with ruffled hems, cigarette pants and matching sleeveless tops, chunky cable knit sweaters worn belted over matching skirts, and coats with double-layer fur and ribbed knit collars.

Accessories were reworked Prada classics: thick knee socks tucked into dainty pointed-toe sling backs with bows or chunky-heeled, square-toe loafers, sweater knit frame purses and new riffs on old cat's eye glasses.

Prada seemed to be supporting the idea that just because it's fast and new doesn't mean it's better. That may seem like a strange value for the fashion industry to embrace, but it is one that high-end designers are grabbing onto to survive the tidal wave of inexpensive fast fashion.

Call it the slow fashion movement.

Alberta ferreti gianfranco ferre Alberta Ferretti's feminine vision was even softer and more lulling than Prada's. The palette included nudes, greens and blacks. And while quietly glamorous crystal- and ruffle-trimmed tulle cocktail dresses and wool suits (the skirts had kick pleats in back) may be familiar territory for the designer, it was all perfectly lovely.

At Gianfranco Ferre, everything was designed to accentuate a woman's curves: pencil skirts with suggestive slits, satin-seamed wool dresses and coats with extra wide belts.

Rather than being overwrought and overdone as some of Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi's Ferre collections have been in the past, this one followed the trend toward uncomplicated, easily understandable clothes. One of the best looks was a simple pair of high-waisted sparkly wool trousers, worn with a leather tie-front blouse.

The designers also seemed to be making a serious bid for the red carpet with a stunning, one-sleeved black gown with a gold-braided leather side panel.

At D&G, it was all about ski bunnies in fur bloomers, Fair Isle sweaters and mukluk boots.

The sweater-dressing theme played out on Fair Isle print chiffon blouses and skirts, a Fair Isle print bodysuit, even Fair Isle print jeans. And a wrap-front leather jacket had the ease of a sweater, with a ribbed collar and cuffs.

So what if ski lodge chic is an old story? It's a good one.

-- Booth Moore, reporting from Milan, Italy

More runway photos: Prada | D&G | Alberta Ferretti | Gianfranco Ferre

First group: Top two photos: Prada. Bottom two photos: D&G. Second group: Top two photos: Alberta Ferretti. Bottom two: Gianfranco Ferre.  All credits: Peter Stigter and Jonas Gustavsson / For The Times

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