Italians are on track with calm, gentle spring clothes. They are just the antidote for all the giddy trends that have recently thrown the fashion world into confusion.
"I think it's time for clothes to get softer, looser and less uptight," said Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president and fashion director of Bloomingdale's.
Among the best proponents of spring's moda milanese is Mariuccia Mandelli, whose Krizia collection is just about her finest ever.
Mandelli, who is known for her serious tailoring - she created most of Diane Keaton's boardroom wardrobe in Baby Boom - now favors a softer, younger look.
She uses lots of warm beiges, misty grays and blush pinks, as well as featherweight fabrics, such as crepe, organza, gossamer linen and suede as supple as silk. Her silhouette is long and fluid, with easy jackets topping long, gathered skirts or high-waisted, cropped pants. Often, a suede sash is softly wrapped around the hips.
There are a few short skirts, but most of the designer's knee-baring numbers are flared shorts that are paired with bandeau tops. (The bandeau, or strapless bra, is a major Milan trend.)
New to the Krizia runway are string-bean jumpers worn with white linen blouses; a heart-and-arrow print, and pullover sweaters decorated with a ferocious-looking panther.
Evening clothes, which are not usually Mandelli's strong point, are among the loveliest of the collections seen so far. Among the items that drew appreciative sighs from the audience were a group of dusty-pink trousers and tunics embroidered with zigzag bands of pale coral beads, and frothy organza gowns awash with tiers of ribbons.
The Fendi collection, designed by Karl Lagerfeld, was similarly soft and graceful, but far younger.
Indeed, the models who loped down the runway wearing Breton hats, Mary Janes and voluminous white linen blouses spilling over long, pleated skirts resembled nothing so much as a parade of French schoolgirls.
Lagerfeld has bid arrivederci to his witty, sassy styles - no more denim bustiers, no more bright prints, no more Eiffel Tower heels - in favor of an innocent look that conceals more than reveals.
Just about everything is in fresh, crisp linen whose colors are limited to white, black and shades of sand and mauve. There is a Gigi quality to Lagerfeld's smock-like blouses worn over long skirts, sweeping dusters, pencil-slim pantsuits and shorts.
Just about everything is embellished with horizontal pleats - think of venetian blinds - although a few dressier numbers are appliqued with cutout white flowers and chalk beads.
Besides linen, there is some pretty black-and-pink printed crepe and a group of nautical, navy-and-white knits.
Soft, gentle clothes are Laura Biagiotti's specialty, so it comes as no surprise that her collection of long, floaty creations in cashmere and linen was one of yesterday's highlights.
Her clothes were worn by 20 doll-like models from China, the same young beauties who modeled her designs when she staged a fashion show there in April.
Biagiotti, who has been dubbed "the Marco Polo of Italian fashion"
because she was the first designer to trek there, showed a film of her trip last week.
It was among her most serene, simple collections, focusing on loose smock tops over cropped pants or long, gathered skirts.
Biagiotti limits her palette to toast, black and white and a few sherbet colors. There are mostly solids, except for some pin dots and bold chevron stripes.
The neutral daytime colors give way to brilliant rainbow hues for evening, for which Biagiotti alternates between long, slender Chinese tunics in gleaming satin, and billowy, puffed-sleeve "bambola" dresses worn over organza pants.