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Return of the girls

London, Sept. 27: Giorgio Armani unveiled his new spring/summer 2006 Emporio collection at the Milan Fashion Week yesterday, drawing a front row line-up of celebrities, including Tina Turner in over-the-knee high-heeled boots and the Portuguese footballer Luis Figo.

Gone were the wacky hats, unflattering make-up, bizarre stabs at androgeny and staccato stalks down the catwalk that have stamped previous Emporio shows.

Instead, the girls, all 112 of them, strolled casually to a reggae beat, with sultry smiles and smoky eyes visible beneath swinging curtains of long shiny hair.

The collection ushered in a new world of pretty femininity for the Emporio label, based on the juxtaposition of jackets, skirts, tops and trousers in sweet pastels, rainbow-bright florals and classic black-andwhite prints as spare as a Japanese scroll.

The models wore curvy, fitted jackets in fuschia over bright floral, ruffled skirts, their feet tip-tapping in stack-heeled, peep-toe ankle-strap shoes in satin and glittery leather. They sauntered in navy and white striped blazers with baggy, floral-print trousers or Mandarin-collared jackets with shimmering satin.

And they shimmied in cropped denim and linen jackets that exposed the navel above flirty, wrap-over mini-skirts.

Jackets with face-framing shawl-collars, caught with ribbon-ties at the shoulder, came with flounced skirts, trimmed with bands of satin ribbon, trousers which featured a waterfall cascade of flounces from knee to ankle, or shorter cropped knicker-bockers.

The designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, responded to the mayor’s “open house” invitation by inviting 150 young fashion students to watch their D&G collection unveiled in a vast white warehouse complex near Linate Airport.

The collection, presented almost entirely in white, with a scattering of sugar-sweet pastels, was a dolls’ house confection of lace, cotton, broderie anglaise and chiffon which turned the catwalk into a Victorian boudoir full of petticoats, skimpy camisoles, smocks, corsets and shorts.

When the flimsy negligee-slips and brief peignoir dresses were see-through ' as they often were ' they were worn over faded denim knickers and bras or floral hot-pants, which offered a nod in the vague direction of modesty.

Dolls were also a recurrent theme at Roberto Cavalli’s diffusion collection, Just Cavalli, where singer Kelly Osbourne, daughter of Ozzy and Sharon, was the front row attraction.

The key dress was a baby-doll, with oversized, Alice-in-Wonderland puffed sleeves and featuring more flounces than an Austrian blind, in 1970s psychedelic graphics or animal prints taken from the designer’s own photographs.

Giant wedge-soled shoes accentuated the girls’ skinny legs and added to the doll-like illusion.

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