The boy-girl theme is nothing new at Dolce & Gabbana, the Italian design duo who often plunder the masculine wardrobe to create attractive tailoring for women. However, previewing their autumn collections, both they and Moschino played on the masculine-feminine twist. At Moschino, Rosella Jardini used naval uniforms as her starting point, adding finely tailored tail coats, tuxedos and riding jackets, but blurred the genders by adding a rose-print lining, or a pink cummerbund.
Dolce & Gabbana's vision, however, was much more androgynous, with David Bowie and Mick Jagger's upbeat version of Dancing in the Street playing on the soundtrack as models in rockabilly outfits; double-breasted jackets, porkpie hats and men's brogues sauntered down the catwalk with hands tucked into the pockets of their low-slung trousers. Not exactly sexy, even when smothered in bright and shiny sequins like some Las Vegas crooner, but there were plenty of 1950s stilettos and body-conscious dresses to please their growing fan base.
Their signature sheath dresses, ruched up the sides, were covered in jazzy star prints, while bags were smothered with musical note prints in keeping with the exuberant music theme.
One clear conclusion from the Milan shows this season is how fashion has grown up. Clothes next winter are not about women trying to look like teenagers or smouldering rock chicks, but just about looking beautiful, alluring and elegant. This was particularly prevalent at Giorgio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo and Pucci. Pucci was the surprise, as the designer Peter Dundas left his jet-set rock chick behind in Capri and headed for the chic schlosses of the Tyrol, where he revamped loden coats and tailored breeches. There are still a few famous Pucci prints on fringed dresses, or reworked in cut velvet for cocktail dresses. However, the smart new silhouette is corseted and snug, with a framed neckline.
Ferragamo's collection, designed by Massimiliano Giornetti, had a 1980s flavour, offering sharp power-broker pinstripe trouser-suits. This, though, wasn't the kind of androgyny on the catwalk at Dolce & Gabbana. It wasn't some fantasy, but serious, stylish clothes for women trying to break through the glass ceiling in the corporate world.
This is also an audience that raves about Giorgio Armani, and his latest collection of fluid tailored looks will serve them well, even when offered in boudoir pinks alongside the black-and-greys. Jackets are elongated over the hips or fitted with peplums and worn over cropped trousers - which is the main story - appearing with turn-ups that made them swing as the models moved. The more romantic, creative pieces, such as the sweet bubble dresses, added that final touch of feminine whimsy to a perfectly pitched collection, which closed the Milan season.