In the language of fashion, white is as much a colour as shocking pink or yellow, and the pristine white lace dresses of the Dolce & Gabbana spring/summer 2011 presentation proved to be the freshest and prettiest on the catwalks of the Milan summer collections. The design duo raided the linen cupboard for exquisite, handmade, lace-trimmed muslins, crochet doilies and table linen to create a trousseau as sweet and as charming as any bride could desire.
Weddings were their source of inspiration, with model brides dressed in slender Swiss lace dresses, broderie anglais bodices and rompers, graceful, empire-waist nightdresses and muslin peasant tops. Dolce & Gabbana's sultry Sicilian muse, however, has not been entirely pushed aside: the innocent white dresses were punctuated with the pair's signature elegant black tailoring and alluring 1950s-style lingerie.
Both Dolce & Gabbana and Versace are renowned for their body-conscious tailoring. Donatella Versace's skintight outfits came in sporty, solid shades of red, white, black and turquoise and mixed short with long. A sophisticated, high-waisted and over-the-knee pencil skirt slipped under a cropped jacket was a key feature and a slick and sexy look. Strips of clear PVC bisected dresses and jackets, echoing the signature Greek fretwork pattern from her late brother Gianni's day.
The pattern appeared in braid trims across button-down straps, which framed necklines and the bare backs of dresses - similarly drawn from the house's fashion heritage. DSquared's aesthetic frequently operates in body-conscious territory, but not so this season. Dean and Dan Caten seemed to be channeling the tomboy look, mixing slouchy men's knitwear with sparkly beaded miniskirts and shorts. Occasionally, they added a pair of ankle socks and brogues, and every model sported bookish spectacles.
The boy-girl distinction was occasionally blurred with an androgynously dressed model in a masculine dinner jacket and another in white tuxedo and long black silk skirt. However, there were enough sparkly pieces to keep their more girly customers happy. Marni also had some pretty, glossy pieces, except that the sequins were not of the shiny variety, and overall, the label's founder Consuelo Castiglioni has been zeroing in on sportswear in recent seasons in terms of colour, cut and fabric.
She references cycling, scuba diving and windsurfing for her ergonomically cut tops and shorts, which she layered with leather jackets. However, the sporty theme was occasionally dropped in favour of some pretty guipure lace dresses and Roman couture, circa 1950s, ruffle-tiered dresses, which was as confusing as it was pretty. * Francesca Fearon