MILAN (AP) — Without entering the debate over climate change, Milan fashion designers are engaging in some serious season-bending.
Though this week's fashion previews are for summer 2014, designers — without claiming to have any weather crystal ball — have dotted the runways with furs, boots and leather.
The biggest cross-seasonal indulgences are fur stoles, tops and Prada even had a summer fur coat. Boots were summer cuts, with open toes, and leather jackets in some cases was perforated or interspersed with sheer materials.
With Milan Fashion Week winding down with its fifth day Sunday, no defining must-be look has emerged -- good news for women who value individuality, as they are sure to find something that works for them.
Maybe not everyone can pull off the ubiquitous bra top or bandeau. In that case, there are more modestly cut cropped tops that speak the same language.
For every long skirt, there is a shorter one. Pants can be anything: tight, loose, cropped, long. In short, if there is a fashion trend emerging, it's anything and the opposite goes.
The parade of new young designers new to the Milan runway continued with Fausto Puglisi turning street fashion into couture and Marco de Vincenzo creating optical illusions with fabric.
Marni creative director Consuelo Castiglioni played, as she often does, with volumes of the clothes — this time seeking "lightness." She deployed pleats, ruffles and bustles unconventionally, putting, for example, a bustle on the front of a skirt to soften the silhouette, creating a loose ruffle that flows like a waterfall down the front of a skirt or another tighter and busier that conveys the softness of a baby chick.
Castiglioni takes the resulting pretty looks and adds a sports touch: a stripy belt, or a bomber jacket, or platform trekking sandals.
Another lightness play: creating looks from sheer fabric to something denser, like a crepe, and with the same floral prints in a gravity play, an exercise in opposites and contrasting weights.
High-waist trousers had elaborate folds on the front, as sort of origami that wraps around the body, and drop into deep cuffs. In one iteration, sheer black pants were worn over shorts, and paired with a delicately pleated top with spaghetti straps.
The collection featured many Asian touches, from the fine floral prints to the Geisha-style super-high thongs.
Visors and chunky jewelry finished the looks, along with geometrically-structured handbags.
Dolce and Gabbana seemed to be saying, "If you got it flaunt it," in their latest summer collection loaded with gold coins.
The treasury of Greek and Roman coins appeared in print on silk dresses and skirts, as tassels on bags and shoes or as ostentatious buckles on leather belts, or simply as jewelry.
Underlining the message, the design team Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana sent a bevy of models down the runway all in gilded lace for their traditional show finale.
The designers, who have long taken inspiration from Sicily, in recent seasons have focused more concretely on the island's treasures. Already in the menswear shows for summer last June, Dolce&Gabbana featured Greek temples, which appeared again in the women's collection for summer 2014 painted across silk outfits.
The show's backdrop was an orchard of blooming almond trees — one of Sicily's natural wonders. The delicate pinkish blossoms appear as appliques on feminine organza dresses and also tops.
The collection oozed luxury, from the colored fur stoles, and even tops, to gold-encrusted mini-dresses with matching gilded bags.
Ferragamo has broken down women's jackets to its parts, and reconstructed it in surprising ways.
Take for example an outfit that from the back looks like a double-breasted cropped jacket with a short pleated skirt worn over trousers. It's only from the front that it is clear that the short skirt is actually the bottom of the jacket, detached, forming the basis of a new design language.
Designer Massimiliano Giornetti also experiments with lighter fabric, sheers and silks, a trend on the Milan runway this season. He creates bandeau tops, out of Ferragamo's expertly crafted leather, which are worn beneath transparent shirts: modesty is retained. Satiny dresses are swept to one side into a cascade of pleats. Trench coats were so supple as to resemble dresses.
The softer looks, and neutral color palate, contrasted with python leather jackets with green, blue or pink accents.
Ferragamo's trademark footwear included open-toe sandals, with some finishing at the knee in a hybrid boot for shorter skirts, fashioned out of such luxury materials as calfskin and python. Bags included fold-over purses and python clutches.
The Missoni summer look is ethnic without going native.
Sarong skirts share the runway with oversized T-shirts and cropped jackets. Prints can be purely geometric Missoni or Japanese pop, or ecological, such as sea waves and mountain crests. Fringe and netting is used either to create an entire outfit, or as embroidery.
The collection features a number of the iconic Missoni knitwear prints, but with a contemporary graphic flare.
The favorite color mixtures for next summer are orange, viola, turquoise and bluette. The collection also plays heavily on black and white contrast. As a monochrome for dresses and skirts alike, the bright turquoise is sure to be a summer hit.
Jewelry is on the ethnic side made out of soft resin and decorated with painted enamel inserts.
Footwear recalls a fancier version of the casual summer sandal. The sandals come with a chiseled high or low heel, and are decorated with multi-colored bands and metal knots.
John Richmond's aggressively sexy collection for next summer is heavy on sheer fabrics — which left little to the imagination.
Toward the modest end of the scale, Richmond paired sheer black blouses with silk pants. Some of the outfits, though tailored like street clothes, were more appropriate for the boudoir with behind-bearing looks including long lacey pants worn with a bomber jacket, a see-through skirt with a satin ruffle and little else for cover and a long transparent jacket with a skirt that unhooked like old-fashioned hosiery.
Even his tamer looks were super-charged, including a vamped-up suit with a tight pencil skirt finishing in a mermaid flair and worn with a tuxedo jacket with a plunging neckline.
The collection finished with a series of heavily beaded evening gown with military accents.
The color palate was a simple black and white, with a bursts tangerine sherbet and acid green. Shoes were super high stilettos, strappy leather sandals or colored pumps in gold, green and other shades.