Diverse designers headline Milan Fashion Week Day 5

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MILAN (AP) — Designers with diverse backgrounds figured prominently in shows on the fourth day of Milan Fashion Week, during a season when diversity in Italian fashion has become an every more pressing topic.

Maximilian Davis, 27, showed his second season as creative director at the Florentine-based Ferragamo. Likewise for Filipino-American designer Rhuigi Villasenor at Swiss luxury brand Bally. And Tokyo James, founded a nearly decade ago by British-Nigerian designer Iniye Tokyo James, presented its fourth Milan runway show.

This week, under-represented designers were also supported by the fashion chamber with inside a project called Blanc Spaces, Black creatives were honored with the first-ever Black Carpet Awards and new designers of color were on display at one of Milan’s trendiest display in a collaboration with Afro Fashion Week Milano.

Some highlights from mostly womenswear collections for next fall and winter on the fourth day Saturday of Milan Fashion Week.

DOLCE & GABBANA’S SEDUCE WITH SHEERS AND LACE

The negligee is coming out of the bedroom next season at Dolce & Gabbana, where sheer and lace lingerie looks set the tone during a season when nude dressing is one of the hottest trends on the Milan runway.

Not to worry, for those who are not ready to go that far, lacy corset tops also become a wonderful element in a suit.

Almost never have the designers created such a clear progression: from the seduction of black lingerie with herring bone or feathery details to a all-white looks, including one sheer, that might be fit for a very non-traditional wedding.

An audible gasp went through the crowd for a gold-studded dress with a metallic corset. Ashley Graham stunned in a ruched red dress that swathed her form.

Like the last season curated by Kim Kardashian, many of the looks drew on the Dolce & Gabbana archives.

Kardashian was back this season, this time in the front row as a spectator, wearing a red sequined bra top and skirt that was a cousin to the runway collection’s closing look.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO CHASES YOUTH

Ferragamo has some sex kitten looks for next fall and winter as creative direction of Maximilian Davis, showing his second collection for the Florentine fashion house, took a dive into the archives when 1950s divas like Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren were setting the mood.

“With Ferragamo there is so much in the heritage, that I felt we really need to work to present it to the younger generation that we want to bring into the brand,” Davis said backstage.

That included an invisible heel on a stiletto, and the Ferragamo red that he employed in smaller ways, like peekaboo slits.

Davis envisages dressing both mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, with his clean lines and spare, direct point of view.

To that end there were slightly off-centered suit jackets with culottes worn fetchingly, and modestly, with dark tights. Culottes also paired with knitwear in see-me red. Sons might gravitate toward technical bombers and tank tops in bright shades, or motorcycle jackets and trousers with flashes of red that can be zipped open or closed.

Davis struck both an elegant and sexy tone with wrap dresses, elegant when combined with draping and sexy when hugging the body in liquidy metallic shades and short hemlines.

Front-row celebrities included Uma Thurman and Hunter Schafer.

BALLY HOST ELLA EMHOFF, ADRIEN BRODY

Model Ella Emhoff, the stepdaughter of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, made her Milan Fashion Week debut this week, which included a stop in the Bally front row to see Rhuigi Villasenor’s second collection for the Swiss luxury brand.

Emhoff sported a Villasenor creation featuring rows of spikey beads that she likened to a weighted blanked, “which is soothing,’’ she said before the show. The striking black top was styled simply with jeans, slicked hair and just a dot of orange on the eye— and a security service detail in the corner.

Villasenor set his collection against the backdrop of a 15th Century mansion that was home to Leonardo da Vinci when he painted in “The Last Supper,” in a church opposite the house.

And the luxury looks that evoked a life of active leisure were at home in the opulent surroundings, including a well-adorned map room, where a carving on the ceiling invoked: “Agere, non loqui,” Latin for “Do, don’t speak.”

Men’s suits tucked into luxury leather waders, while her elegant cape falls perfectly to meet thigh-high boots. For her, there was functional knitwear with a gold-chain belt for daytime outings, and for evening, super-sex dresses that plunged and clung to the form, with asymmetical backs. Waiting by the door, were fake furs and quilted puffer coats.

Sitting opposite Emhoff in the map room was Adrien Brody, arriving just in the nick of time with his partner, the designer Georgina Chapman.

TOKYO JAMES CODE SWITCHES

Tokyo James accented his collection with rows of dead zipper pulls, that offer neither an opening, nor any closure. They are there to amuse, provoke, and jingle, like charms that draw attention away from the fabulousness of the garments, lest they attract jealousy.

The collection, dubbed “Code Switch” as an homage to his decade as a designer, featured denim combinations in blue and purple, colorful patchwork shearling, cropped leather jackets and teddy bear coats with mesh-covered openings. Loose-cut suits are covered with the names of places in his Nigerian homeland: Badagry, Surulere, Ikoyi, and one suit jacket proudly declares: “African” in sparkling red.

Models had red-makeup smeared on their teeth, and some made the most of the potentially ghoulish accent, sneering at the cameras as they made their turn. But the overall mood was dapper, underlined by the short scarf accessory, tied in an off-skew bow, as the designer himself wears.

FERRARI GOES PINK

Ferrari luxury fashion appears to have a permanent home at Milan Fashion Week, as its performance boosts the lifestyle segment at super sports carmaker.

The latest collection by Rocco Iannone features Ferrari pink – ironically the only color that the carmaker declines to offer automotive customers -- alongside the traditional red. On the runway, the colors play nicely off each other in bold combinations of shiny outerwear, puffy utility vests and quilted skirts. Pink also got a turn as an accent in shredded and intarsia knitwear

Innovation at Ferrari is not confined to car technology. Shiny red jackets and jodhpur shaped quilted pants were made from a new textile developed through a patented process called Q-Cycling that converts old tires into wearable fibers.

BENETTON DEMOCRATIZES FASHION

Andrea Incontri is in his second season of upping the fashion game at Benetton brand, with his first collection – featuring a mélange of knitwear featuring fruit patterns just now in stores.

“They tell me it is going well,’’ he said with a smile.

His second collection for next fall and winter turns largely on color, with the brand’s famous knitwear the lynchpin element. Lavender, pink and tangerine combine in a casual suit combo, the blouse kept open under a cropped cable-knit sweater. Bunny motifs repeat on black-and-white sweaters, worn over a polka dot shirt. And a shiny, green eco-shearling coat pulls together a pink-and-green floral printed skirt with accompanying pullover.

Accessories include soft bags with the streamlined octopus logo, which also appears as jewelry.

The looks are meant to be both accessible and a serious stab at fashion for the Main Street crowd who can’t, or don't want to, access luxury.