A few hours before his show, Roberto Cavalli was on Italian television reminiscing about his 40 years in the business - how he started out as an impoverished painter who made money by decorating jeans with appliqué designs inspired by the great Florentine artists. The glamorous haute bohemians who visited his first little shop in St Tropez still flock to his stores today for the luxurious boho look that he has made his signature. Many of his customers were not even born when he first picked up a needle.
There were no jeans in this collection, which instead featured luxurious fur jackets, striking tapestry brocade and gold-embroidered sheepskin coats. For the rich hippies who like to waft from place to place, there were pleated chiffon, lace nighties, harem pants, long scarves and fur-trimmed shoulder bags. Naturally, this being Cavalli, there was a lot of animal print, but it was blurred and faded, giving a gentle vintage spin to the show.
Pucci also offered a boho hippy luxe look that, together with Cavalli's, served as a romantic antidote to the precision cutting and streamlined looks around many of the Milan collections. Peter Dundas reworked an archival print called Capri in deep purple and blues for a long alluring dress before reinterpreting it in devoré velvet, silk jacquard and gold lamé. The lamé version came in a leggy little party dress that was nothing more than a fringed Spanish shawl wrapped around the body.
The Norwegian-born Dundas used to work with Cavalli and so knows how to cut a fur or trim a leather jacket. The effect was luxurious. There were also some sharply tailored boleros trailing long scarves and sexy zip-back trousers, while the red carpet watchers will be relieved to see siren red, purple and printed lamé dresses in time for the Oscars this weekend. Alberta Ferretti, of course, is particularly famous for her ethereal chiffon red carpet gowns. In the last few months she has dressed Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Holly Hunter and a bevy of beauties for the SAG Awards and Baftas. There is a strong possibility some of the delicately worked nude-oloured gowns garlanded with crystals seen on the catwalk will be at the Academy Awards.
Ferretti is also expanding her repertoire of outerwear with camel-hair coats, which are a big trend this season, and dark, fur-trimmed fit-and-flare styles that look just as feminine but a lot warmer.