Photo by Anthea Simms

There’s nothing like a shot of DSquared2 right between the eyes to jolt you awake. The Caten twins brought the crowds out (including gold medallist snowboard Shaun White) to a military academy on Corso Italia at 9am. After a slow start – 45 mins late – the curtains opened to reveal a factory setting complete with an elevator and two transparent ‘cages’ for semi-nude muscle men. The girls were tricked out in fetish gear – plenty of corsets, patent legging / boots and strapless minis. A highlight was a spinal theme interpreted in boot heels and the embellished back of a black gown. While the sexed-up glamfest was meant to titillate, the whole set-up was tired and a repeat of a D2 show I saw in Milan three years ago. The boys are best when they’re in a playful casual mood. No one glams up parkas, jeans and work boots like the Toronto twins. I feel like a heel for not loving the show – the twins are the Canadian fashion industry’s most successful export – but this show was as sexy as Lady Gaga. All camp, no chic.

The boys scored perfectly with their DSquared boutique in Milan around the corner from my hotel. It pays tongue-in-chic homage to the their Canadian roots. Decor features antler chandeliers, log stump stools and a fake fire raging on a tv screen in a fitting room. It’s the perfect contrast to their sexpot brand of trashy homegirl who likes her jeans tight and heels high.

Last night’s insomnia has hit hard. Time for a quick nap before this afternoon’s packed schedule.

After an unsuccessful attempt at napping – the bellman knocks on the door to deliver more invites – I’m out again. This time it’s Alberta Ferretti known for her etheral frocks.

The photographers go nuts when Anna Wintour sweeps in with her bodyguards. “Madam! Smile!” one commands as the barrage of flashes begin. Wintour always travels with security to protect her from fur protestors and over zealous fans and photographers. She’s also the target of anger over the short Fashion Week – reduced to four days from seven. She had lobbied for the shorter week but other editors had also cut back preferring to save the days of limos and hotel rooms. Milan is ridiculously expensive – more than Paris. Seems to me that Wintour is, unjustly, the face for the debacle. Nevertheless, she  seems oblivious to the fuss and chats with her team.

The show is stunning – think Park Avenue Princess luxe. It opens with pretty sheer pleated frocks in coffee hues and then moves to fitted detailed toppers. One I love is navy with black fur sleeves. Half of the show is cocktail dresses and gowns in black or subtle nude tones embellished with rhinestones, feathery fringe and pleated ribbon. Any of these would be brilliant on the red carpet at the Oscars. I hope a forward thinking nominee will opt for one of these instead of the usual flashy strapless ballgown.

Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi design for the Ferre label. They still haven’t found their path with the late designer’s architectural style. While this season’s bold shoulders, fur trim and massive belts recalled Ferre, they felt dated and akward.

Here, the season’s biggest influence (Celine) was all over the runway with caramel leather and flesh-toned jersey and silk. One influential designer always rises to the top and this season it’s Phoebe Philo and her minimalist mood for Celine. She’s the ‘new’ Balmain if you will.

I always like seeing how models transform from one show to the next. At Ferretti, Freja looked like a sweet wood nymph with wispy side-swept hair and soft natural makeup. An hour later at Ferre, her hair was straight and slicked back. Paired with red glossy lips, she was a 90s power glamazon.

It’s a lovely spring-like day in Milan. Next stop – Emporio Armani where Canadian stylist John Donato is on Oribe’s hair team. 


The Emporio Armani show was running an hour late so a group of us managed to squeeze into the first of two shows with minutes to spare. Armani shows in his own theatre on the outskirts of town. Emporio is his ‘bridge’ label priced below Collezione. He rarely follows trends, instead, choosing to perfect his soft suitings (cropped jackets with full short skirts) and wispy ruffled dresses. His palette is usually black, white and pale grey with a few florals tossed in. Accessories were bold and graphic – large crescent neckpieces and geometric earrings.

I catch up with Tommy Ton outside the show and then head off to Versace, another of the week’s highlights. The environment is totally different from Armani’s grand theatre. This one is a mirrored dark space that feels like a major drama dance club. The wall in front of me is a mirror that divides the room.

The girls come out fast and furious – flowing hair and hot bodies showcased in fitted jackets and stovepipe trousers cut motocross style. Freja’s here again – this time styled like Jane Fonda from Klute. Curly lamb fur trims jackets and the style heat soars with a parade of body-con dresses pieced with zippers or reflected mirror panels. There’s a spacey Avatar feel to some of the colours but at its heart, it’s all very Versace at his peak in the 90s. I can imagine some of Hollywood’s hottest stars (Kate Hudson or Penelope Cruz perhaps) picking one of the white hot second skin column gowns for the Oscars red carpet next month.

At the show finale, the mirrored wall rises to the ceiling revealing the entire parade of models in the centre of the room. The storied label has faced a storm of financial problems this year but Donatella proved that she’s back on top and roaring to go. 


Today ended on a high note with the Jil Sander show held in the shadow of Milan’s Castello (castle) Sforzesco. The collection continued its minimalist march forward but with warm colours tossed into a tweed and check mix. Spare jackets topped sheer shorts and a parade of warm tweed suits look work-worthy for fall. One gorgeous combo was in grey, violet and moss. I especially liked the accessories – charcoal leather flat boots (no teetering stilettos here) and simple satchels. The only misstep was a parade of rompers and tailored jumpsuits. They looked great but, honestly, how do you handle bathroom breaks. Adult women cannot fuss like babies.

And Freja was here again too. This time her face was brushed with minimal makeup and her hair was in a slick ponytail. One of the world’s top runway models, the girl’s a gorgeous chameleon.

And instead of the soundtrack that sounded like Avatar‘s battle scene, the music should have echoed that of a ringing cash register. This collection was a license to print money. Gorgeous!