MILAN, February 23, 2011It might have been sheer coincidence that the most memorable image of Alberta Ferretti's show today was the pattern that ran down the front of a shift dress and a tunic top. It looked like a crack in the sidewalk. Maybe that was her way of telegraphing the schizoid nature of her new collection. The first part of the show was a roundup of (relatively) practical daywear, the second featured ethereal, floaty, classic Ferretti dresses. The designer is convinced that women have passed beyond the ease of day-to-night dressing. They now want a definitive break point in their day between work and play. Hence, perhaps, the crack.
It wasn't necessarily a formula for coherence, but it did move the Ferretti collection in a new direction. The idea of a clear division was explicit from the outset, with a shift split in two by a spiral motif underneath a coat whose hard-edged graphic was the antithesis of the sheer, nude chiffons that Ferretti paraded last season. Colors were strong: fuchsia, petrol, electric blue. The designer spoke about a new, shorter proportion, but the velvet thigh boots she used throughout the show—never mind the floor-sweeping caftans—meant that there was scarcely a moment where bare flesh was seen. Even though monochrome trouser suits were convincing, you could feel Ferretti wrestling with the challenge of diurnal propriety. She surrendered to her instincts with a patina of sequins and crystals. (Well, we did say the daywear was relatively practical.) Then she heaved herself with a sigh of relief into her signature diaphanousness, with elaborately embellished gowns that gave their wearers pale shelter. Thinking back to that first outfit, it was hard to imagine how a woman's day could begin one way and end somewhere else so radically different, but as an act of faith in human adaptability, Ferretti's show was oddly reassuring.