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Robbie Williams entertains at Emporio Armani’s airport show

September 21, 2018
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Model Gigi Hadid wears a creation as part of the Moschino women's 2019 Spring-Summer collection, unveiled during the Fashion Week in Milan, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

MILAN (AP) — Milan designers were letting go of streetwear and turning back to the basics of elegant design on the second day of Milan Fashion Week.

That is not to say there is nothing for trendy youth. Designers are turning to materials like PVC to keep a street-smart edge. And they aren’t giving up the lessons of functionality, incorporating them into more sophisticated collections.

Some highlights from Thursday’s previews of womenswear for next spring and summer in Milan, including Fendi, Max Mara, Prada and Emporio Armani.

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ROBBIE WILLIAMS ENTERTAINS

Robbie Williams feted the Emporio Armani fashion crowd in a sequined kilt and black Giorgio Armani T-shirt. “Come to Milan and get a free skirt,” Williams joked. “Imagine that phone call. ‘He wants to wear what?!’”

Williams sang a full concert, pleasing the crowd with his hits, starting with “Let Me Entertain You,” and also striking sentimental notes with a tribute to George Michael, the late pop singer, and bringing his father, a performer himself, out for a duet to “Sweet Caroline.”

Williams said it was watching his father perform that song as a boy that made him want to become a performer himself.

To close the set, Williams beckoned Armani to the stage and knelt nobly before the designer, calling him “a legend.” He dedicated the final number, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” to Armani, singing the final chorus, “You did it your way.”

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EMPORIO ARMANI DEPARTURES

Giorgio Armani issued boarding passes to adventure to the fashion crowd, inviting them to shuttle out to Milan’s Linate Airport to see the latest collection for his youthful Emporio Armani line.

Invitees were instructed to arrive with valid passports or IDs, and were subjected to the usual airport routine from long lines for check in, on through airport security and then the boarding gate. The flow of fashionistas through the terminal left ordinary passengers with surprised looks on their faces.

The vast Emporio Armani men’s and women’s collections were shown on a square runway erected in a hangar at Linate that has for two decades been dominated by a neon sign for the fashion house. While the show went on, airport business continued as usual: An Alitalia plane was parked at a gate nearby.

For daywear, the Emporio Armani palette was subdued, featuring classic knit and soft-cut jackets for men and iridescent looks with corseted tops and diaphanous trousers for women. Evening was flashier, with beading and fringe in bright pink and acid green.

Straight from the runway, enthusiastic models donned Emporio Armani “Milan” T-shirts and headed to mosh pits to enjoy Robbie Williams’ show.

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CLASSIC PRADA’S REBELLIOUS STREAK

Miuccia Prada is challenging conservative winds with conservative looks, fighting fire with fire. But she is also giving them a rebellious twist.

Prada’s collection for next spring and summer — unveiled in a new performance space on the ground floor of Fondazione Prada’s high-rise — drew on classic Bourgeois codes. The textiles were satin, chiffon and canvas in a basic palette of black, white and beige. The building blocks were classic T-shirts, baby-doll tops and dresses, 1970s wrap skirts and pedal-pusher shorts.

But the prettiness was undermined by psychedelic and tie-dyed fabric treatments and exaggerated by oversized beads and sequin accents. What at first appeared to be a sparkly princess tiara was actually a preppy headband that stood high on the head, in an almost ugly gesture. Eyewear created alien eyes, replicating a well-known emoji. Handbags were structured, lady-who-lunches purses.

Prada’s resistance was evident in the lowcut and super-lowcut fronts and backs, modestly held in place by straps. Classic cashmere sweaters with starched white-collar shirts belie their primness with cutouts on the backs or elbows. The message: Don’t be deceived.

Prada said the collection aimed to represent the clash between liberation and rising conservatism — in society, in fashion and in politics.

“What worries me is the simplification. Because even now, politics is run by slogan. In Italy, not even slogans, kind of hashtags,” Prada said. “That is my worry now. The struggle between freedom, rights, liberation fantasy and conservatism.”

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FUNCTIONAL FENDI

Nicki Minaj took a front row seat at Fendi, taking a turn for fans on her way in decked out in a Fendi puffer jacket and matching leggings and cropped top.

Other front-row celebs included Italian fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni with her rapper husband Fedez, leaving home their much-Instagrammed infant, Leone, but trailing television cameras as they toured backstage.

While the front-row celebrity attire was highly branded Fendi streetwear, the runway collection by Karl Lagerfeld was more elegant and subtle.

Fendi courted functionality with transparent PVC outerwear with leather details, while jackets, belts and handbags were equipped with external utility pockets.

This Fendi woman is an urban dweller whose wardrobe needs to carry her through the day. The color palate was somber neutrals with flashes of orange and acid green, and the branding was limited to subtle heat-stamped double-F logo impressions.

On the casual side, biker shorts were paired with a fur-intarsia bomber coat or a belted cream shirt. Cargo pants had a trailing belt fastened with an airline seatbelt buckle and paired with a cropped sweater.

The power silhouette was more sculptural. A leather top was corseted tightly around the waist and worn with a straight pencil skirt, while a cream mini leather dress zipped up the front. For day there were pretty pleated skirts, and for evening a series of romantic floral and animal patterns on silk and fur.

The brand’s Peekaboo bag came under a waterproof cover and with interchangeable straps.

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MAX MARA REINVENTS MYTHS

Ruffled, twisted and ruched detailing defined the Max Mara silhouette for next season, giving an ultra-feminine edge to power looks for day and night.

Gigi Hadid and Irina Shayk led a tribe of mythic models in looks that the show notes said illustrated a literary retelling of epic classics, like Homer’s “The Odyssey,” from a female perspective, exposing centuries of male mistranslations.

Max Mara tapped ancient classical attire like one-shoulder tunics and updated as a one-shoulder button-down shirt that wrap the figure. Elegant basics included classic overcoats with down-to-business scrunched-up sleeves, and buttoned gators worn under Bermuda shorts, pleated gaucho pants or dresses for a boot effect.

Flurries of ruffles created an armor look on a dress bodice, or a military vibe down the side of cropped trousers or the sleeves of knitwear. One-shoulder dresses twisted at the waist. Ruffled belts gave a peplum effect while ruffled detailing was pretty as it trailed down the heels of shoes and along straps of backs.

The mostly monochromatic color scheme ranged from the brand’s traditional camel to canary yellow, navy blue and taupe — broken up by some polka dots and Prince of Wales check prints.

Hair was worn in a no-nonsense tight braid down the back, sometimes covered with a scarf.

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COLORFUL MOSCHINO

Jeremy Scott paid tribute to sartorial creativity in his latest collection for Moschino.

The American designer started out with a clean slate of garments — a white trench coat, blouse, jacket and shirt — with streaks of color as if just sketched, all to suggest a work in progress.

Even the models legs bore scribbles, instead of hosiery.

Building to his usual whimsical climax, Scott sent out models still attached to the rolls of fabric, wrapped in an oversized yellow measuring tape as a shawl, as a queenly pincushion or wearing a large thimble hat.

Moschino gave a pass to see now-buy now, instead concentrating on its new perfume, Toy 2, to be launched next month and to prepare a collaboration with H&M expected in stores later this fall.

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