MILAN (AP) -- Many of the fashions displayed on the Milan runway Thursday had a yesteryear appeal -- but with a contemporary edge.
Coats are a mainstay for next winter, many of them oversized with accentuated cuffs -- part of a trend toward architectural references in clothing. Fur coats and jackets make the biggest comeback in many a season, perhaps appealing to new markets in cold weather climates, and certainly fitting for the snowy Milan weather.
Many of the styles, from the flared skirts to belted suits, recalled couture favorites from earlier fashion eras. However, the styles were updated by paring down the silhouette and using coarse fabric for elegant wear that in the past has been associated with silkier materials.
Spandex gave a modern glint to looks, including form-fitting dresses, jumpsuits and turtleneck tops, which were softened with sewing details or by coupling them with softer materials like fur and cashmere. For romantic looks, there was lace paired with leather or animal prints for a new twist. Gold lame and sequins add luxury to sensual evening wear.
The palette featured a lot of blues, green, red, some white and flashes of yellow along with mainstay black.
Hardy, practical shoes were a mainstay, but designers aren't neglecting pretty looks and are still coming up with sandals, pumps and feminine slippers and booties.
Bags tend to be large, but not huge, and no few have a Mary Poppins practicality.
The Prada finale was a long luxurious mink coat with ample collar and cuff like the ones the Hollywood divas used to wear in the 1950s. Underneath the model wore a sheer see-through silk dress.
It was only the showiest item of the winter collection presented Thursday evening, based on yesteryear luxury, from the opulent coats to the gilded gowns to the mink wraps.
Miuccia Prada season after season has a fashion vision, and follows it through regardless. This round she revisits vintage couture in a contemporary context.
Coats have extra wide cuffs and are often belted at the waist and flared toward the bottom. Skirts come in wide ballerina styles, as do some the dresses. The jumper dress is another 1950s look, which Prada revisits, even for evening, not to mention the many coat dresses in the collection.
Totally Prada, and anything but retro, was the uneven hemline (one side much longer than the other) that the designer used for daytime belted sheaths as well as gilded, belted gowns.
Fabrics ranged from coarse tweeds to shimmering metallic materials, plus leather and fur. Crocodile takes on new importance when used not only for bags, but also for skirts and even a suit.
The latest Prada shoe, either a sandal or a bootie, has a thick high heel, but a heavy rubber sole.
The sides of the voluminous bags in tweed and leather, including crocodile, were folded in such a way to give the impression of a feline face, perhaps inspired by a video of a cat that was part of the background of the show.
Fendi is to fur what Ferrari is to cars. Yet given current concerns about animal rights, the brand has moved from the lavish fur coats that were all the rage in the 1980s to a more discreet way of interpreting fur as fashion.
Fendi creative director Silvia Venturini, daughter of one of the company's five founding sisters, opted for wisps of fur used as hair decorations, bracelets, or charms hanging from Fendi bags.
Fur also appeared as inserts in a skirt or a dress, or sheered and fashioned into a cozy, but not showy, jacket. Long fur, usually goat, also seen on other runways during Milan's preview showings, was used to make up a skirt or a cape.
For decades, German born designer Karl Lagerfeld has been working with Fendi, adding his flamboyant designing talent to their creative genius.
This round he offered a constructed slim silhouette, with accentuated shoulders and a knee-length hemline. The look is sophisticated rather than sexy and used deep, dark shades of red and blue, which along with black are becoming the staple colors for next winter.
In the accessory department, Fendi chose to reinvent its iconic handbags, from the clutch bag -- this time furry -- to a modern version of the Mary Poppins bag.
The shoes are sure to be a winter hit. Whether a pump, a boot or a lace-up, each pair was elaborately decorated, some in fur, and comes with a pointed toe and a glistening mirrored high heel.
Blugirl has looks for women feeling both demure and daring at the same time -- mixing traditional tartan, peek-a-boo lace and bold leopard prints.
The women's wear collection for next winter, took as its muse the British style icon Alexa Chung. The label described Chung's style as "midway between tradition and urban accents, ultra-cosmopolitan, always cool."
Designer Anna Molinari's collection started off with a preppy coed look: green, red and navy plaid skirts, sometimes pleated, or pencil pants paired with oversized green sweaters, pullovers or cardigans. Shoes were leather ankle boots, worn with short, dark socks.
The outfits transitioned into more feminine territory. A tartan-printed taffeta bubble skirts paired was with a ruffle-neck lace shirt and topped with a loose-fitting leopard-print jacket, leading off an array of looks combining plaid, lace and leopard. Here the preferred shoe was the pump.
The collection finished with a flash of gold, with sequined evening dresses and skirts.
Dragon and swan motifs gave a nod to Chung's British-Chinese heritage. Commanding dragon shaped necklaces and Chinese-style jackets offered Asian flair, while sequined kissing swans on evening wear were reminiscent of an English park.
The looks were finished with small shoulder bags in leopard print, tartan or sequins, strapped across the body for the stylish girl-on-the-go.
The German Bauhaus design school gave a sophisticated clientele functional yet elegant design in everyday objects, like chairs and teapots, as well as living and working spaces. On the runway in Milan, Max Mara struck the same note of functional elegance in its Bauhaus-inspired women's wear show.
The collection for next winter was, fittingly, highly structured.
The coats alone were a feat of layered and textural complexity. A hooded overcoat, worn open over the shoulders with empty sleeves hanging, accompanied another interior jacket with a nubby texture.
Often, the overcoat sleeves were rolled up to reveal another layer of, say, spandex, which contrasted with the satiny coat lining. Leather patches emphasized rounded shoulders.
Max Mara's heritage of practical luxury was highlighted by its focus on new camel fabrics for their coats, including spun alpaca and mouflon wool. From super-functional camel, the color palette then progressed to a deep yellow and onward to decidedly urban shades of gray, black and midnight blue -- a nod to the Bauhaus inspiration.
The silhouette ranged from skinny pencil skirts paired with long sweaters for the office or loose-fitting pajama pants for relaxed afternoons. Shoes emphasized comfort -- sneakers -- but were built from luxury materials like suede and leather. Boston bags were made from leather and crocodile prints.
Both the masculine and feminine sides of the DSquared2 label were shouting over each other for attention.
The collection for next winter featured over-the-top masculine tailoring balanced with oversized jewels.
For daytime, the look was gangster chic, with loose-fitting men's double-breasted suits worn with nothing more than a dickey underneath and topped with exaggerated bowler hats -- pink with purple ribbon. Pencil skirts paired with belted jackets, one with layered, architectural lapels.
But for nighttime, the mood was more speak easy slinky with silky dresses with an asymmetrical, trailing feather boa hemline or a fur stole -- a favorite on Milan runways this season.
Designing twins Dean and Dan Caten showed at night for the first time in a while, giving up their closing day slot.
Designer Roberto Cavalli drew inspiration for his second line "Just Cavalli" collection, from a recent trip to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, at the foot of the Himalayas.
"Riches there are measured by the values of happiness," the designer said ahead of the show, which had an ethnic, almost hippie feel to it.
Almost the entire collection came in subdued native prints, fashioned in anything from tunics over pants to colorful evening gowns. Accessories included long silk necklaces like the ones worn by the Bhutan nobility, and a backpack to replace the more urban handbag.
Many designers are featuring fur this round of preview shows, including Cavalli who used it mainly to trim the hoods of his winter parkas. That was enough to draw the wrath of a small group of animal rights activists who disrupted the show holding up signs in Italian saying, "Your fashion is our death," until they were forcibly removed.