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Gigli-Arrivederci To Miniskirts

March 7, 1988

MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Romeo Gigli, one of the newsiest designers on the Italian fashion scene, banned short skirts from the collection he unveiled at the start of fall- winter shows in Milan.

His look was soft rather than sexy. Gigli’s models had demurely plaited hairdos and wore flat-heeled elfin bootees in suede.

If Gigli has his way for the next cold season, the thigh-baring skirts popular this winter will be a thing of the past.

Gigli showed Sunday that he’s using his favorite knit fabrics for narrow- shouldered tube dresses that fit tight as a second skin without being provocative. He likes shawl collars on long knit cardigans and when he isn’t lengthening skirts to cover the knee, he shrouds the leg in cuffed pants.

Gigli is a minimalist, an anti-hero in the gilded world of fashion. Not for him an opulent salon. He presented his fashions in a white-washed garage on a shabby street with the audience seated on wooden benches.

There was something Dickensian about his slope-shouldered suits and tail coats, a feeling also reflected by his use of fabrics reminiscent of yesteryear: Drab-colored serges, stiff heavy wools and covert coatings.

″I do a lot of research on fabrics,′ said Gigli as he received congratulations.

One of his most ardent fans at the show was Paris designer Azzedine Alaia who said, ″I love his clothes.″

Frequently Gigli’s models looked as though they were dressing up in their mothers’ or grandmothers’ clothes, an effect enhanced by long, narrow sleeves.

Some late-day styles were draped like yardage swathed on show window mannequins while yards of tulle sprouted around the calves on slinky dresses.

Gigli favored diagonal necklines that bared one shoulder or softly shrouded both shoulders. He showed mastery in controlling volumes with slender evening coats in gleaming silk that had huge shoulder-framing collars.

Also on Sunday’s program were the fashion twosome, Dolce and Gabbana who designed with an almost old-world chasteness. Gentle shapes, delicate trimmings, a romantic feeling and no miniskirts indicated a less aggressive thrust.

Before these shows began, there was talk that the Italians would be battling not only against the effects of the low dollar that cripples their sales, but also against French designer Christian Lacroix whose colorful fantasy fashions have been a huge success.

Some critics have accused Italy’s stylists of being over-dedicated to sober elegance and lacking in fireworks

At least by the standards of Sunday’s showings, Italians seem intent to keep on doing their own thing.

Scheduled for the rest of the five-day Milan showings are some of Italy’s most prestigious designers including Armani, Versace and Missoni and Fendi.

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