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Milan gets star treatment as fashion goes royal chic

By Staff
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MILAN, Feb 24 (Reuters) There are times when even Milan's sleek fashion pack lose their cool.

When Jennifer Lopez sashayed into Dolce&Gabbana's catwalk show yesterday, she was met with whoops and roaring applause as even the front rows packed with top buyers and the cream of the fashion press stood to get a glimpse of the pop diva.

But Lopez, in a figure-hugging dress, was all but eclipsed by the rich gold embroidery and sumptuous empire-line brocades that filled a collection inspired by Napoleon and his time.

''It was so beautiful, so gorgeous,'' Lopez told Reuters backstage after the show as she sat between designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. ''It was everything you expect from Dolce&Gabbana sexy, powerful, ethereal.'' The design duo turned the military hints in their menswear collection into a full theme for women next winter, bringing out button-front tight breeches worn with boots or stockings and a line of Napoleonic jackets in all lengths and materials.

The military look was pared down with cropped jackets and jeans or adapted for the city in a neat-but-sexy grey pinstripe.

''It's a kind of femininity that is different from before.

The military look, but in a romantic way,'' Gabbana said.

The designers raided a ''War and Peace'' haberdashery for opulent evening wear that went from sheer, ruffle-collared Josephine frocks in aquamarine and cream to empire-line dresses crammed with tassels, pearls, feathers and gold embroidery.

For the chillier nights, there were gold feathered shrugs.

''It's Napoleon and his lovers,'' Gabbana told Reuters. ''It's about him and all of the women around him during his life Marie Antoinette, Pauline, Josephine.'' ANGLOMANIA HITS MILAN The Napoleonic theme continued with Britain's Burberry which celebrated its 150th anniversary with a celebrity-packed catwalk show at Palazzo Serbelloni, Napoleon's Milanese residence.

Kate Moss, the one-time face of Burberry, took a break from tabloid attention to grab a front row seat, sitting with veteran fashion photographer Mario Testino and ex-boyfriend Jefferson Hack, while top model Stella Tennant walked the runway.

''Kate is the person that made this company go up, up and away,'' enthused Testino a core member of what the label's enthusiastic PRs dubbed ''the Burberry family''. Burberry scrapped a planned project with Moss following a scandal over her alleged drug use last year.

The Burberry Prorsum collection, as befits an anniversary year, delved into the fashion house's archives. Yorkshire-born designer Christopher Bailey played with the label's trademark trenchcoat, which came out in a classic cut but also quilted, cropped, fur-trimmed, in gold or in delicate lace.

''I really looked into Burberry, into what it means today and what it meant historically. And the trenchcoat was the basis of everything I worked on,'' he told Reuters after the show.

''It was the founding piece of the company. It can be dressed up, it can be dressed down, it can be for a guy, it can be for a girl. I wanted to express the nonchalance and a way of dressing through the trenchcoat.'' Bailey, who joined Burberry in 2001 and has overseen an astronomic rise in the group's revenues, had fun with ruffles and frocks from girly puff-sleeved dresses to chic pearl skirts.

But the fashion house also kept to its Saville Row traditions with impeccable trouser suits and an updated version of the classic smoking jacket, worn with a white ruffle shirt.

Barely a trace, though, of Burberry's signature plaid, used and abused on high streets across the world.

''We are so proud of the past but I'm so thrilled to see Christopher, a young, British designer, continually twist that heritage into something modern,'' Burberry Chief Executive Officer Rose Marie Bravo said backstage.

Bravo, credited with reinventing Burberry, is set to become the group's vice chairman in July, leaving the executive role to former Liz Claiborne executive Angela Ahrendts.

Fashion week continues tpday with rebellious duo DSquared2 and sexy favourite Versace.

REUTERS SB RN1043

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