MILAN -- Giorgio Armani ended Milan's spring-summer fashion opening by short-circuiting the current '60s revival and plugging into a new wavelength for the '90s.
Showing shorts under everything from slinky black evening gowns and short beaded slip dresses to serious daytime jackets, Armani has once more made it possible for women to raise their arms in public without risking arrest for indecent exposure.
The evening shorts hug the legs just an inch or two below sexy beaded dance dresses. The daytime shorts are cut with wider legs and flutter below contrasting jackets with shirttail hemlines. A typical combination melds a blue-gray crepe jacket with taupe-colored shorts and a pale-blue chiffon wrap blouse. Or a coffee-colored silk jacket with cafe-au-lait shorts and an even lighter creamed-coffee tunic. The legs below are veiled in barely tinted stockings and the shoes are sling-back spectators with small heels.
In this season of spectacular shift dresses and body-skimming chemises, Armani's are the most refined. Sleeveless tissue-weight wool chemises close asymmetrically, drape gently to the side or fold across the front like a French coin purse. While Armani has always been famous for his relaxed sportswear, especially jackets, this collection marks his triumph as a dress designer -- for day and night.
Armani ignores the intense colors and prints of the '60s in favor of a more subdued palette, including many shades of gray, ocher, taupe, caramel, brown, white and navy. While shorts prevail, there are pants in the collection, most of them teamed with matching unconstructed jackets, often in navy blue. Men's striped neckties are worn as mufflers or tied around the neck and worn with shirtless jackets and shorts.
Here are the overall spring-summer 1991 trends seen at the Milan shows, which ended Wednesday: The '60s swing back into style. Pucci. Gucci. Mini. Skinny. Pop. Op. Psychedelic prints. Wigs. Sleeveless shift dresses. Baby-doll coats. Black vinyl. Jean Shrimpton. Grace Kelly. Jackie Kennedy. Audrey Hepburn. They're all back. Again.
Led by Gianni Versace, whose enthusiasm for that decade continues unabated, Milan's '60s revival includes everything from Mario Valentino's leather hot pants to Krizia's patchwork shift dresses and Genny's big silk shirts in colorful Pucci-style prints worn over black tights. Black-and-white graphics are also a big part of this look back.
The leg show. Boldly printed leotards for day. Sequined and beaded pants and tights for night. Unitards day and night. Sexy, thigh-high stockings with corsets at Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana. And two new great ideas from Karl Lagerfeld for Fendi: Hiding cottage cheese thighs by layering a mini over stretch capri pants and covering errant bulges by veiling unitards with long, flyaway organza jackets. For executives and the ladies who lunch: Sheer, usually pale, stockings take over from opaques.
In the swim. So what do you wear to jive in a dive? A jeweled swimsuit, of course. Gianfranco Ferre's underwater gems include maillots encrusted with big black and white beads or necklaced in colored gemstones and pearls, and a 1991 version of Rudi Gernreich's topless swimsuit of 1964. The Ferre update, worn by a model who folded her arms over her breasts -- no Peggy Moffitt she -- is in yellow stretch damask with heavily jeweled straps that stretch from shoulders to waistline.
Versace shows his printed and jeweled swimsuits over matching or coordinated stretch tights. Lagerfeld says the dancing costumes from Degas paintings inspired his fencerlike quilted corselet bathing suit for Fendi. He shows it over black tights and accessorized with tulle beach towels and French tricorn hats.
Repeat performances. The biker bag pedals on into spring. Ferre likes it in pastel pink leather belted over white leather pants and worn with a matching bra and white duster. Gucci's version has two change pockets and looks something like a banana. Other color trends continuing for spring include navy blue and brown.
Girdles go it again as well. So do bra tops, headbands, trapeze shapes, hoods and even last fall's favorite anorak -- the latter "summerized" in see-through organza at Oliview and Ferre.
Sequins. Fashion's new spark plugs gleam and glitter day and night, opaque or shiny, on virtually every type of apparel, including bras, girdles and swimsuits.
Off the wall. Laura Biagiotti bases her new cashmere T-shirts on the abstract geometrics of Mondrian, Reitveld and Van de Velde. Callaghan recreates portraits from Van de Veer paintings and brings back the blue-footed Tauregs from the Atlas mountains (the models actually painted their feet blue). Sybilla brings sculpture to the body in what looks like pieces of fabric suspended over the body in graphic pop-op designs. Her secret: The fabric cutouts are held together with transparent thread.
The talented 27-year-old Maurizio Galante is a modern artist whose medium just happens to be clothes. His four-armholed dresses, wind-around jackets and fold-over jumpsuits are veritable works of art.
Your horoscope. Astrology continues as a major fashion force at Fendi, where zodiac signs are embroidered on T-shirts and the pockets of linen jackets and play clothes.
The jokes. Franco Moschino's new witticisms include a survival jacket complete with compartments for whistle, toothbrush, makeup, comb, brush, lipstick and other lifesaving essentials for those at sea over fashion. Other noteworthy Moschinoisms for spring include a Waist of Money Belt (the words "Waist of Money" printed on a leather belt) and a Waist of Money Jacket (the words in gold at the waistline of a red jacket).
As is often the case, Moschino's wearable comments on the fashion scene are right on target. This season, he pointed up the pretentiousness of some of Milan's fashion presentations by sending out on the runway a simple white shirt and classic glen plaid trousers to crescendoing music from grand opera. (La Scala, it should be noted, is just down the street from the Moschino showroom.)