Italian designers seemed to have taken time out this season from their trademark black sexy look: Loose and light styles in bright color promised a carefree, casual summer — a break from the current economic gloom.
Green — the season's favorite shade — also spoke of hope for better days ahead.
Then on Monday, the last day of the Milan fashion week for the Spring-Summer 2011, Roberto Cavalli and Giorgio Armani switched gears. Cavalli persisted in his sexy ways, while Armani shrouded his summer wears in a monotone deep blue.
Tuesday, the fashion pack moves on to Paris, where the French designers will have their say for next year's warmer weather.
"Me Cavalli, she Jane" the designer seemed to be saying as model after model walked through the runway's make-believe jungle in skin tight gowns and trousers to the thumping beat of the show's soundtrack.
Many of the outfits were barebacked, but the real sex appeal came in the intricate workmanship.
Almost every outfit dripped with fringes and was tied together with subtle lacing. But if at times the fringes served as chastity curtains, the lacing did little to cover the body. Instead, it was used for a peek-a-boo effect on open seams and bare midriffs.
There was real snakeskin — a Cavalli favorite — in the collection, especially for the fringed shoulder bags, but the novelty came in the intricate embroidery that matched tiny silk leaves with pearls, sequins and fringes to create a snakeskin pattern.
Straying from this week's penchant for ethnic jewelry, Cavalli matched his sexy look with oversized gold loop earrings.
After six days of glaring color — Armani himself featured watermelon red in his Emporio collection — it was a real surprise to see a show where the brightest shade was midnight blue.
The designer drew inspiration for the collection from the Tuareg, also known as the blue nomads of the desert for the dark face covers worn by the men.
There were no veils on the runway, but throughout the show the models wore blue knotted turbans stolen from one of the nomad menfolk.
The basic Armani silhouette is fitted, with tunic tops over long skirts and trousers, a look featured in many of the shows the past week. At times the look is layered: a small vest over a jacket over a blouse, much like desert attire.
Armani's evening wear comes in a series of strapless blue silk evening gowns decorated with big blue bows, and a myriad of sparkling sequins.
Footwear for these dramatic dresses is a totally flat blue silk slipper.