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Summer fashion hot and happy in Milan

Fashion followers got a chilly, wet welcome to Milan, but on the catwalk, dampened spirits were uplifted by the promise of hot and happy styles for next year's warm weather seasons.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Fashion followers got a wet welcome to Milan as chilly temperatures and persistent rainfall marked the opening day of the weeklong preview showings for spring-summer 2007.

But on the catwalk, dampened spirits were uplifted by the promise of hot and happy styles for next year's warm weather seasons.

Giorgio Armani, for one, is in a very good mood.

"This is a very good moment in my life," the designer said after his much applauded signature show, which harked back to his elegant look with a hint of androgyny that secured a place for Milan on the international fashion map some 30 years ago.

Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the front row guests at the Monday afternoon show in the ultramodern Armani headquarters.

Armani is just back from a whirlwind tour in London last week where he opened an Armani Casa housewares store and orchestrated a gala charity event to combat AIDS in Africa.

On hand to help with the cause were Armani fans such as DiCaprio, Ashley Judd and Alicia Keys. The fashion highlight of his London trip was the presentation of his second line Emporio collection for next summer, which will not be shown in Milan.

Dubbed "easy chic," Monday's signature collection revisits some Armani favorites such as simple fluid trousers in ultrasoft fabric paired with feminine jackets in Armani staple shades of beige and pink. A pert mannish fedora, demure silk shawl and flat footwear add androgynous mystery.

Nighttime at Armani is in elegant black, with sumptuous gowns caressing the body but never grabbing it. Demure silk berets or hats with brims worked like lace complete the romantic look.

"Vintage is very popular these days, so I reinvented my own ‘oldies but goodies,'" the designer said.

Earlier Monday, the fun-loving duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana jazzed up the summer catwalk with their latest bright and funky club fashion for their second line D&G collection.

Models with creatures-of-the-night makeup and long hair dyed in shades of cherry pink, royal blue and acid green, held back by headbands in the same garish colors, marched down the catwalk in towering silver platform sandals or studded silver boots.

Outfits consisted of off-one-shoulder toga dresses or short frilly skirts and hot pants coupled with skimpy tops. These disco looks came with leggings in neon shades or black lace stockings. In lieu of an evening gown, the designers offered a slinky black lace leotard with a wide patent leather belt cinched at the waist.

During the six days of showings, which end Saturday, more than 60 Italian ready-to-wear designers including Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Ferre and Versace will present their offerings for next year's warmer weather.

If D&G is a barometer for next season's look, we are in for a sizzling summer.