Pre-Fall 2009 Collection

Giorgio Armani saves the dramatics for his Milan runway shows. The fancy pants he's known for and that are now absolutely everywhere were replaced for pre-fall by simple, narrow, or wide-leg options with jackets to mix and match in shades of gray and black, along with an equally restrained lineup of after-dark looks.

If Francisco Costa was in experimental mode on his Spring Calvin Klein runway, pre-fall found him thinking more practically. The effect was somewhat less intellectual, a whole lot more chic. Last season's dress-heavy lineup was replaced by a focus on tailoring, as the designer sent out a great hammered silk trench, a kimono coat with statement-making short sleeves, and a trim quilted jacket paired with knit pants tapering to the ankles.

Donatella Versace mined her brother's couture archives for the star prints that decorated her pre-fall collection, but the silhouettes graphic little coats with contrast piping and even tinier cocktail dresses were all hers. Everything was strictly above the knee, save for a handful of not-for-the-faint-of-heart awards season gowns, the best of which came in black lace with a slit up to there and a star detailed in peekaboo mesh on the torso.

Pretty print day dresses and bustier-topped party looks were shown on models who wore their hair in Veronica Lake waves, accessorized with brooches made of wood, papier-mâché, and pearls, and sported beaded socks that alluded to 1940's hosiery shortages. A sporty drawstring-waist topper and a sexy pair of skinny jersey ski pants added a modern element to the retro mood.

Christopher Bailey didn't veer far from his winning formula at Burberry Prorsum. There were the signature trenches done up this time in metallic leather velvet; the floor-scraping flares and narrow jackets with new, slightly puffed sleeves; and, taking a page from his crinkled and wrinkled Spring collection, silk matelassé cocktail numbers.


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