Dolce&Gabbana present fierce matador looks, while Marni opens with monastic solemnity

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MILAN — Milan designers wrapped up five days of previews for next summer's womenswear looks on Sunday.

While trends like geometric wedge sandals, billowing diaphanous dresses and embellished boyfriend denim trousers won't be in stores for months, the fashion hungry already have a good idea what to expect thanks to the hashtag-driven world.

That's a good thing, helping to demystify fashion, according to Heidi Klum, has played a big role in the popular evolution of fashion as one of the creators, along with Harvey Weinstein, of Project Runway.

"People can understand it better now," said Klum, who was in Milan for an AmFAR gala Saturday evening, and took in the Versace and Roberto Cavalli collections. "Because of Project Runway, because of social media. You see editors in the front row uploading all the photos right from the runway, so you see it immediately. Now everyone is competing and showing things."

Klum said she herself is "fearless with fashion" and bravely wears things many department store buyers would rather leave on the runway. "I love wearing all those beautiful clothes. I have a lot of opportunities to wear the beautiful gowns. I understand not everybody does."

AMFAR GALA

Klum's fashion choice for the AmFAR event was a red carpet-worthy strapless black Versace gown accented by a cage-like gold corset.

Klum, who has been working with AmFAR for over a decade, oversaw an auction that raised $1.4 million for the AmFAR foundation, which has set a goal of curing AIDS by 2020.

A Damien Hirst piece fetched the highest price of the evening, 250,000 euros ($320,000), while Israeli model Bar Refaeli helped drive up bidding on a Robert Rauschenberg print titled "Soviet/American Array III" to 110,000 euros ($140,000).

"I think it is so important what they do," Klum said. "They are raising millions and millions of dollars for the research."

OVER THE RAINBOW

Massimiliano Giornetti has updated brand founder Salvatore Ferragamo's original 1938 Rainbow wedge sandal, created for Judy Garland. The shoe has been made modern with monochromes, and paired with exotic skins, while the platforms undulate both along the horizontal and the vertical.

That movement echoes the clothes in the collection, and epitomizes how Giornetti is perfecting the marriage of apparel and leather goods at the center of the brand's identity.

Nowhere was that better exemplified during the Salvatore Ferragamo womenswear preview on Sunday than in halter dresses with a reptile bodice that flowed right into a knit skirt with the lightest tulle underlay for an ethereal effect. It was complemented by a clutch with fringe cascading out of the side.

Cross-directional ribbing gave movement to dresses that wrapped assuredly around the bodice, while leather belts defined the flattering silhouette. Voluminous trousers moved like skirts.

There was an emphasis on white — a runway favorite in Milan collections for next summer — earth tones and paler shades — but the designer punched up the last pieces with turquoise blue and emerald green accents.

SPANISH SICILY

Dolce&Gabbana continue their survey of conquests of their beloved Sicily, rendering into ready-to-wear fashion cultural traces left behind by these sometimes ill-fated adventures.

Last season it was the Normans, this time it's the Spaniards -- giving the designing duo plenty of material to express passion: black lace, ruffled skirts, silken fringe and red carnations.

The looks were fierce, as in matador jackets worn with high-waist bubble shorts, romantic, as indicated by a heart-and-rhinestone encrusted red jacket paired with a flowing black lace skirt, and sexy, with trademark corsets worn with stockings or a sheer black skirt.

Some were simply sweetly pretty: a lace poncho fashioned out of reddish-pink roses and finished with red fringe, paired with a short skirt or dress and worn with bejeweled ballerina flats.

Amid all the fanfare, the designers also quietly sent out brand classics: the corset, a knee-length black dress and a suit. Models tantalizingly carried display cases containing dolls wearing matching outfits. Something for collectors, perhaps?

MEDITATIVE MARNI

Marni's collection for next summer opened with a nearly monastic solemnity.

Pale in color and light on adornment, the looks were quietly meditative, referencing martial arts with long black belts knotted at the navel, wide pants that dragged effortless along the ground and long asymmetrical trailing hemlines. Flashes of white on the sandy backgrounds seemed aimed at directing an energy flow.

A cappuccino brown anorak was proportioned like a monk's garb, its tall collar suggestive of the typical hood. Slip-on sandals contributed to the simplicity of the look.

Then the collection started to vibrate a bit more intensely, at first with gray florals, flashes of black and white, then color and bold prints incorporating green, peach, yellow, pink and cyan. The progression also saw shapes get bigger and more extreme as oversized Flamingo ruffles, half bustles and winged sleeves introduced new volumes.

"This collection starts with a white canvas, and then develops in colors, in prints, in jacquards, in embroidery," brand founder and designer Consuelo Castiglioni said backstage. "I don't do anything I wouldn't want to wear, or see people wearing."

ACTIVE WEAR, MANGA STYLE

Au Jour Le Jour designers Mirko Fontana and Diego Marquez, in their second outing on the Milan runway, have sought to evolve their brand, adding a touch of sophistication while retaining their fun, icon-driven aesthetic.

This collection was inspired by a 1980s Japanese cartoon volleyball player named Mimi Ayuara, and the clothes she might pull out of her gym bag. Models, who walked swiftly past volleyball nets, sported short volleyball culottes with fruit prints paired with anoraks and gladiator-style knee-high hightops. Sparkly polo shirt pairings and three-dimensional jacquard ice-cream icons added a touch of elegance while maintaining the brand's youthful appeal.

The designers said they have been overwhelmed by the response to their first collection that showed in the Milan runway in February, hosted by Giorgio Armani.

"'It is really crazy, all the attention from stores and the press our collection has gotten," Marquez said. "We want to improve season by season. We want to tell a very complete story, we want to see it in a fresh and also elegant way."

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