MILAN, Italy - Boudoir styles, once a trademark of Italian fashion, are back for spring/summer 2010. But rather than the sex pot numbers, which brought out the best in designers such as Dolce&Gabbana and Gianni Versace, this round the look is demure and yesteryear.
Corset tops worn over a jeans bubble skirt, panties peeping out of a pair of short shorts and bra tops veiled in silk chiffon all combine to create a romantic rather than raunchy mood.
Many of the styles have a old-fashioned feel with heavy use of old-fashioned lace, knitting and cotton.
Culottes are pulled out of Grandma's trousseau to become contemporary shorts, worn over loose silk tops.
There is also an enticing lightness and unfinished touch to these collections, with profuse use of chiffon and gauze, and shredded fabric as if cut but not stitched.
Layering is a big part of next summer's fashion and designers often lingerie items with shirts, vests, dusters or the latest coverall - the chiffon apron.
As this round of Milan fashion comes to a close - the five day preview showings end Monday - it is apparent that the designers, hard hit by the current economic crisis, are playing it safe. There have been no dictates this season but, rather, gentle hints, as seen in the soft core of the sexy styles.
In this season of lingerie looks, no one could feel more at home than Dolce&Gabbana, who first turned inner wear into outerwear on the Milan runway some 30 years ago.
For spring/summer 2010, the designing duo, who presented their latest collection Sunday, run the gamut from corsets to culottes in fetching lace, crochet and floral printed silk.
The transparent effect of lace is used on jackets, dresses, skirts and even shoes and bags. A three-piece tuxedo with cropped jacket and jodhpur pants serves as a reminder that you don't have to take your clothes off to be sexy.
"The idea was to provoke sensuality," Stefano Gabbana said of the collection, which in many ways was reminiscent of the duo's earliest 1980's styles when pop singer Madonna was their muse.
The grande finale of the much applauded show - a myriad of models "dressed" in bustiers, bras and panties - underlined the fact that the duo was not yet done with "dirty" designing.
However, there is a sweet, rather than sexy, feel to the collection, reflecting the romantic mood that has captured this round of Milan fashion.
Even the shoes, despite their towering heels, are wrapped, rather than strapped, around the ankle in a lace bow.
Colours are mainly black and white, interspersed with demure China porcelain prints. A new Dolce&Gabbana animal print in red or light blue is proof that there is still lots of tiger in that fashion tank.
There is a feel of yesteryear at Fendi, as if someone had opened Grandma's trousseau trunk and wrapped each item in light gauze for protection.
Everything from the old-fashioned bras and panties to bubble skirts, shorts and even the high-heeled shoes is covered in a thin veil, lending an ethereal effect to the new spring/summer collection designed by Karl Lagerfeld and presented Sunday.
Moreover many of the outfits have a frayed look, with unfinished seaming and off-white or black colours which add to the "once upon a time" feel of the clothes.
And yet the collection is also ultra modern with a brand new shirtwaist made up of shorts and a shirttail back, leather worked to look softer than fabric and the latest Fendi bag with its exchangeable surfaces.
The many-bags-in-one, designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi, inventor of the popular Baguette bag, is sure to be a success in these times of tight purse strings. The simple leather bag comes with little "aprons" ranging from linen to intricately embroidered fabric, in various colours.
For nighttime, the bag has a satin cover reminiscent of the pouches Grandma used for putting away her silk stockings.
Marni makes dressing up look easy.
From the layered styles held together by a striped knitted belt with matching striped leggings to the upbeat flowers, checks and polka dots of the prints, Marni's latest collection presented in Milan on Sunday is all about a laid-back summer 2010.
Like many collections presented during the current Milan fashion week, the outfits are feather light, and each piece can be worn individually from the sporty shorts to the shirt-dresses to the dustcoats.
True to designer Consuelo Castiglione's style the clothes take on the personality of the woman who wears them whether they are casual jersey trousers or elegant silk jackets.
Shoes for next season, worn on the runway with ankle socks, include suede sandals with a small heel, loafers, and wedges made out of light resin.
Huge petal earrings, wraparound sun glasses and a printed silk head scarf complete the seemingly effortless look.