Milan: All Dressed up ...

In a town where the International Herald Tribune arrives at your door in the morning dressed in Fendi—today it was a chic, shiny “F” logo envelope—you know packaging is all-important. Even at a restaurant like Bice, where we dined with friends last night—the maître d' instinctively knows where to seat the various tribes, taking care to leave enough space between Hearst, Hachette, and Condé Nast diners (polite waves were exchanged, of course) so that the tableau vivant is a happy and harmonious one. Cheers! (or Salute!, as they say here), to that. Nothing is more cheering in the a.m. (next to a double cappuccino, of course) than perusing the day's show invites—talk about posh packaging!—for a sneak preview of what delices will be on display. Standouts so far: Pucci's Hockney-esque collage of blue, purple, and green swirls, Moschino's mini mannequin with the provocative “Ideal Dress = No Stress & No Dress,” Sportmax's adorable color wheel, Cesare Paciotti's sparkling King Arthur sword against black, the totally gorge embossed-leather plaque imprinted with the Guccissime logo print for the Gucci by Gucci publication party (performance by John Legend!), and our personal fave so far, the DSquared2 express "credit card" that came with our own name printed on it. Haven't tried it at the DSquared2 shop yet, but surely will! We all want to believe the invite when it says, "Gianfranco Ferre ha il piacere di invitare la..." in handwriting that is Mr. Ferre's own. Ditto the line about it being "strettamente personale." Strictly personal to all 800 people in line with us? Of course, bella! Never judge anyone till you've walked a mile in her Dolce & Gabbana buckled knee boots, Joanna Coles was thinking, when it comes to watching the shows from different seats. Your point of view totally impacts your take-away impression. At Dolce & Gabbana, for instance, Joanna was sitting right at the stage entrance and could see the models, on their breadstick legs, trembling in the wings, like fillies at the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby. Which girls had or had not gotten their legs waxed was apparent, as was the number and intensity of the blisters produced by this season's crippling shoes. At show's end, Joanna also saw the models all maul Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbano with hugs and kisses, which reminded her of tigers at a Siegfried and Roy show. Apologies to the Vegas circus act, of course, but this moment summed up the show: Dolce was so very Vegas—with plastic dominatrix bustiers and feathers, sequins, and boas—it was more over-the-big-top than anything in this glam gala of a week. At Fendi—a veritable silver rush with futuristic, metallic-mesh minidresses and logo belt buckles the size of breastplates—Joanna sat right with the photographers, and so got a close-up-and-personal look at the model's to-the-camera pout. The money shot! And no doubt the one Fendi's Karl Lagerfeld hopes will sell his whimsically wearable, space-age spring collection. Tara Stewart, Marie Claire's indefatigable testa rossa (that's “redhead,” but we prefer the Italian) Associate Market Editor, confesses she sometimes likes the re-see as much as the show. The re-see is the intimate meetings where designers talk through the line with editors without the son et lumière of star-powered models and deafening electronic hip-hop. "It's thrilling to be able to actually touch the garments you've just seen on the runway—you miss all the incredible details during the show," she says. "Also, at a re-see, you get such a feel for how global fashion is. It's like the United Nations in the showroom! Japanese editors, French editors, American girls—an amazing number of languages and energy." Ah, Milano! Some come for your spectacle; others, like Tara, prefer the strettamente personale. . . Try Marie Claire risk-free for more about the latests trends from your favorite fashionistas. [...] [...]

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