MILAN (AP) — Midway through the current women's wear fashion week for the Spring-Summer 2012, it is clear that designers are thinking ladylike, not sporty.
There are few trousers in the collections, and when they show up they are slim and proper. Short shorts do have a prominent place on the runway, but after all it is summer.
Hemlines hover discreetly around the knee or are elegantly floor-length.
Colors vary from black and white to beige, pastels and a few bold colors.
The preferred footwear is the sandal, with either a high or a platform heel. Sneakers and summer boots, with the exception of a few eccentric models, are out.
Many shows hark back to the Roaring '20's or the chic '50's, the first fashion decade to make reference to the Charleston era — think chemise dress.
Low waists, crinoline hemlines and sequined embroidery are everywhere, but the defining style is pleats — small, large, accordion — it makes no difference as long as the fabric folds.
Straying a bit from the fold, Donatella Versace Friday night presented a collection where everything, from fetching mini-dresses to clinging goddess gowns to aggressive platform sandals, was steaming hot.
By adding a little sugar to her trademark fashion recipe, she comes up with a sexy sweet style.
Models in pretty chiffon mini dresses and ultrahigh Plexiglas platforms looked like mermaids stranded in the big city. Seashells and starfish printed or stitched in sequins on the pastel colored dresses completed the demure look.
Things get hotter when bold metallic studs replaced the sparkle, and fabric for shorts went from chiffon to clinging neoprene.
At night, the little mermaids turn into sirens in goddess gowns with plunging necklines, bare backs and tempting slits up the sides.
Giorgio Armani on Saturday delivered one of the most ladylike collections seen thus far on the Milan preview runway for his second line Emporia label.
Taking a basic low-waisted silhouette, he gives the style a contemporary graphic look by defining the shape with contrasting black and white lines. The designer also gives a sculpted twist to yesteryear's crinoline skirt.
The Armani models looked like they just walked out of a tableau from a 1920s beach resort. They wore chic Panama hats, black high-heeled sandals and carried a transparent beach bag. Think Deauville where Coco Chanel got her first fashion inspirations.
In the preview collection presented Saturday, Tomas Maier mixes fabrics and colors to create a unique blending effect for next summer's styles.
A mix of leather and fabric and a contrast of black and brown make up the pleats of a skirt, while bands of different shades and materials are worked together to create a multi scarf effect for dresses.
Prints and embroidery, too, are a combination of shiny and opaque, color contrasts and mixing of fabrics.
The overall feel is of something very special — which even when Maier uses pleats, a trend in the current fashion week, seems unique.
The silhouette is classic but sensual, a combination of a tailored cut and fluid lines.
The latest Bottega Veneta bag comes in various sizes, is ultrasoft and meant to carried in the hand.
Taking the label's staple white cotton, designer Raf Simons in the collection shown Saturday, turns it into a shift dress, a jacket, or even a coat dress.
The use of sheered fabric and layered poplin reveal the contours of the body, making the outfits subtly sexy.
The all-white look, paired with white-laced summer boots, has a slight hospital feel.