Dispatches from Milan: DSquared2 & Giorgio Armani

Madness versus realism on day six

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1.Giorgio Armani 2. DSquared2 3. Giorgio Armani 4. DSquared2

Here’s the story behind the DSquared2 show: A glamorous star finds herself on a psychiatric ward having lost her mind – to what, we don’t know. But it’s all ok because despite getting banged up for being mentally deranged she has a really dazzling wardrobe of magnificent things. She was big in the 1960s, or so she thinks, which is why she wears so many capes, swingy jackets and short shift dresses in shiny purple, green and blue snakeskin. She also enjoys parading up and down the ward in grand gowns of feathers and crystal bows. She sometimes leaps on her bed to show off her pencil-thin trousers and leopard-print jacket. And she refuses to see the doctor without her fur coat – a fancy patchwork number inlayed with sequins.

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Her favourite accessory is quite something – an arm cast made of gold and encrusted with jewels. Sometimes she likes to dress up as a naughty nurse in a strict micro white dress and pillbox hat and try and get off with one of the doctors. But when you see her slumped over the table having taken her tranquilisers, please don’t imagine that she doesn’t looks fabulous – she might be nuts, but she knows how to work a palazzo pant.

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It’s probably best not to over-analyse the DSquared2 brothers Dan and Dean Caten’s latest effort, where the set was an institution with white beds behind a high-security metal cage and the models resembled their idea of an overmedicated starlet who, despite falling on hard times, always looked perfect. Part of you wanted to ask someone to get these identical twin designers a psychiatrist. Another part revelled in the sheer madness of it all – the most theatrical, campest West End musical experience it is possible to have on a catwalk anywhere in the world. Their fans will no doubt go mad for those clothes.

1. Giorgio Armani 2. DSquared2 3.Giorgio Armani

If you had to demonstrate to people outside the fashion bubble that not all designers are bonkers, you couldn’t do better than to take them directly to Giorgio Armani, Italy’s elder statesman of restraint. In a way, you wish he’d called his collection ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ and pulled out an unexpectedly steamy eveningwear section, but in keeping with Armani World he called it the more aptly titled ‘Fade to Grey’ - although there were at least 50 shades to choose from.

This was Armani at his most minimal, functional, easy best. He started out with the kind of suits you might see a very chic CEO wear in the City with spare jackets that curved the body and pleat-front narrow trousers cropped demurely above the ankle – no fuss, no theatrics, just clothes that women will pull on, feel great in and don’t have to bother thinking about. There was a particularly beautiful oversized grey coat and a shorter swingy version that whispered easy elegance. From that point, he worked green into his palette – as go-faster stripes down the seams of trousers, or as a simple gathered silk skirt. Once the green had reached a lime hue, the outfits took on a more look-at-me attitude, not least because they were worn with Armani’s version of stomping Dr. Martens boots.

The evening wear was strong: one silk vest and trouser-combo in pale lime was worn with a web of jet beads around the shoulders. The final gown was equally classic – a shimmering pale lime strapless column – that reinforced the message of the show: refined, controlled sophistication by Giorgio Armani.

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