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Lots of skin for summer 2010

The Associated Press, Friday, September 25, 2009, 10:37am (PDT)

MILAN, (AP) -- Whether it's the economic crisis or just the fashion mood of the moment, designers are skimping on fabric for this round of preview showings for the spring/summer 2010.

Mini hemlines, bare backs and one-shoulder styles are all about quality not quantity, especially at Donatella Versace, where the outfits are as tight as they are short.

At the end of the second day of showings, it is apparent that the accent for next year's warm weather is on detailing with intricate prints — Prada's seaside scenes, for example — or metallic or beaded inlays, such as the decorative panels on Armani's evening wear or the armor like silver and bronze strands at Ferre and Versace.

The use of transparent printed plastic is an eye-catching combination of flesh and fabric, without the need for the usual complicated cutting and stitching. Bright colors and airy chiffon underline the lighthearted spirit of the summer styles.

A day after Miuccia Prada decreed death to the platform heel, Donatella Versace resurrected it with an 18-centimeter (7-inch) version which made the already-tall models look like they were walking on stilts.

FERRE

The Ferre fashion house, which is still evolving since the death of its founder, Gianfranco, two years ago, presented a quietly elegant spring/summer collection, perfect for summer celebrations.

Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi used muted colors — white, sand, honey and nude — in light chiffon fabrics, which the designers gently wrapped around the body like a cocoon, for above-the-knee cocktail dresses and ultra light jackets.

The designing duo, in their second year at Ferre, introduced a new softness while still retaining some of the late designers' structured elements — including the signature white blouses and squared lapels.

According to the designers' notes, the overall theme was of a caterpillar evolving into a butterfly — epitomized by a black chiffon cocktail dress with a a large bow fashioned into a butterfly's wings that frame the face. The show concentrated on after-hours, with only a few outfits dedicated to daytime — a trend that reflects modern living, where many people work from their homes and emerge at night for fun.

Lest anyone think the collection is only about play, the duo included a few pantsuits with fitted jackets and deep-cuffed skinny trousers. "We want to cover every occasion of the day," CEO Michele Pica said after the show.

VERSACE

Donatella Versace has sheathed her models in the miniest and tightest of skirts, emanating power with towering stilettos and silver accents forming breastplates ideal for today's women warriors.

The spring/summer 2010 Versace collection presented Friday is for the "extremely sexy and iridescent" woman, according to the designer's notes.

The body-clinging collection of skintight pants, dresses and skirts features bold patterns in yellow, lavender and black, as well as vibrant turquoise and fluorescent shades of pink and peach.

Models strode down the runway under track lighting to rhythmic music evoking the jungle — and not a few of the outfits brought to mind Amazon warriors for their metallic studs and microchains evoking armor and breastplates. Tarzan's Jane would love to be seen swinging from branches in a minidress of laser-cut leather triangles stitched together.

Versace seems to be approaching a new mathematical certainty where the shortness of the skirt is somehow inversely proportionate to the height of the shoes: The micromini skirts may be approaching the 18 centimeters (7 inches) of the stilettos.

Versace also created sheer plastic skirts, covering swim suits or with body suits underneath for street wear, something that would not seem out of line on Barbie, and certainly practical for the beach.

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Associated Press writer Colleen Barry contributed to this report.

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