Black is back for fall on the Italian runways. Giorgio Armani and Roberto Cavalli close out the week Raf Simons’ sublime collection and emotion-filled final bow at Jil Sander.

 



Giorgio Armani

1. The creased Bermuda shorts created for Emporio Armani popped up again here. And like with his secondary line, the designer made a similar case for how versatile the organza knee-length trousers can be (wear them with tailored jackets for the office and underneath skirts for evening). But even within the context of the more sophisticated main line, the shorts were a conceptual challenge simply because the length and higher waist line will add pounds to anyone whose legs aren’t long enough. The collection could have used more of his chic, androgynous suits with long trousers that opened the show.

 



Roberto Cavalli

2. With the Oscars overlapping, Milan has been surprisingly light on celebrities this week. But Roberto Cavalli made up for it by closing out Italy’s shows with none other than one of fashion’s starriest models, Naomi Campbell. It was an appropriate ending for a show filled with flamboyantly opulent clothes for the biggest divas — fur-trimmed T-shirts over leggy python bell bottoms, massive fur ball gown skirts with graphic silk blouses and sweeping animal-print, chiffon dresses under tough leather jackets. Each look was richer and more dramatic than the next.

 



Jil Sander

3. “You can never leave without leaving a piece of you,” Billy Corgan sang as the models walked. It’s a testament to how Raf Simons made the label his own that the overall sadness about his leaving Jil Sander seemed to overshadow any buzz or excitement about the founder returning to her namesake brand. News that the Autumn/Winter ’12 collection would be Simons’ last instantly made the show the week’s hottest ticket. And afterward, people talked about it with an “I was there” type of reverence usually reserved for farewell concerts by big rock bands. The sentimentality of it all could have easily eclipsed the clothes, if they weren’t so sublime. For one, Simons worked with color, specifically romantic shades of red and soft pastels that gave some much-needed contrast to all the moody black, charcoal and wine we’ve seen this week. He also continued the outerwear story that has been dominating Milan, but with a lighter, more elegant touch — and thankfully not a dip-dyed fur sleeve in sight. His coats and corseted dresses came in voluminous, vaguely mid-century shapes, and seemed to be an evolution from the full skirts and dresses he showed for spring. The clothes were a continuation and yet, still a definitive end — at least for the house of Jil Sander. In the meantime, we can hope the rumors of his taking over the reins at Christian Dior are true.