Greatest Hits: Milan & Paris

Our top trends from Europe's Fashion Week Finale. By Christene Barberich & Piera Gelardi
Paris Fashion Week was a wrap on Friday, and Alber Elbaz's exuberant finale seemed to evoke what everyone was thinking…we can't wait for next spring. The quieter runways of Milan came alive with riots of color and fantastical themes and silhouettes. Paris continued in the spirit with more artful references, experimental shapes, and patterns galore. Together, Milan and Paris delivered an offbeat optimism that's been long overdue…here are our favorite looks and trends from the weeks that thrilled.
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1. Art History—The channel of art influences connected all four cities this year—provocative painterly themes ran the gamut from pop-laced geometrics to Bauhaus and the Bloomsbury group. Layered in high-octane colors and free-form strokes and sketches, we loved them all. From left: Marni, Just Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Daks by Giles Deacon
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2. Bold Gingham—The picnic got a little wild this season, when designers like Nicolas Ghesquière and Miuccia Prada took this classic print and gave it a drop (or two) of acid. More psychedelic and costumey than quaint, the season's country look was refreshingly vivid and a pleasingly outrageous. From left: Balenciaga, Prada, Prada
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3. Sheer Outerwear—The see-through rain gear gliding down the runways made us nostalgic for cheerful rain-gear á la grotesquely cheerful '60s/'70s musicals. Cartoonish drapes of yellow and red fashioned in capes and mod coat-dresses could make anyone wish for a good downpour. From left: Veronique Branquinho, Costume National, Fendi
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4. Bloused Knickers—Taking a cue from the recent penchant for harem pants and jodphurs, springs interpretation nipped blousey trousers right at the knee and turned them out in silky satins and playful polka-dots. From left: Givenchy, Tao, Anne Valérie Hash
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5. Mix 'o Prints—From New York to Paris, designers declared that just one print was most definitely not enough. Layering up patterns and patch-working florals with graphics was a strong theme, and from Dries to Dolce, the effects were sublime. From left: Dries van Noten, Just Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Lacroix
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6. Escher-esque Effects—The Dutch artist's optical imaginings had a distinctive presence at shows like Fendi and Sophia Kokosalaki where graphic experiments with black and white offered a seriously chic play on modern patterns. From left: Sophia Kokosalaki, Viktor & Rolf, Sophia Kokosalaki, Fendi
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7. Head-to-Toe Satin—Luxe, luxe, luxe. All that gorgeous shimmery satin lapping down the runway gave the season's suiting and layered pieces a lush, but laid-back sensibility that harkened back to diva classics like Halston and an early awesome Donna. From left: Anne Valérie Hash, Haider Ackermann, Haider Ackermann, Lanvin
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8. Pepto Pink—The runways revealed more purple and yellow than you could shake a stick at, but our favorite color code for spring was the rage of pink, frothy and funky in shades worthy of easter eggs, bubble-gum, and big bottles of Pepto. From left: Giambattista Valli, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld, Junya Watanabe
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9. Body Armor—Leave it to Dries and YSL to take the trend in metallics to a whole new level of battlestar genius. Woven vests, stiff golden shifts, and dramatic chain-mail-style dresses gave metal mania a whole new meaning. From left: Dries van Noten, Gianfranco Ferre, Just Cavalli, Ann-Sofie Back
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10. Star Stripes—Taking punk to glamorous new heights, the season's fancy for bold black-and-white stripes paid a sort of unofficial homage to punk's mad matriarch—Westwood. From left: Jean Paul Gaultier, Just Cavalli, Anne Demeulemeester, Anna Molinari
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11. The New Kaftan—Call it a muumuu, kaftan, whatever, we loved the daring display of volume and Norma Desmond-style drama in Giambattista Valli's and Haider Ackermann's super cool black-as-night tent-dresses. From left: Giambattista Valli, Haider Ackermann, Lanvin
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12. Living Doll—Micro-poufed skirts, harlequin ruffles framing the face, and jaunty prints at Viktor & Rolf and Miu Miu earmarked a spirited Pierrot-inspired theme that lent a whimsical new take on a grown-up living doll. From left: Miu Miu, Miu Miu, Viktor & Rolf, Viktor & Rolf
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13. Vest Dressed—Traditional menswear lightened up at Celine and Ann Demeulemeester where looks shed their heavy top-coats for sexy, skinny vests. In crisp, clean white, these newly fresh 2-piecers were the suit of the season. From left: Anne Valérie Hash, Celine, Anne Demeulemeester
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14. Decadent Sport—Spring's recreational fare went to glam extremes this season, with designers like Dries Van Noten and 6267 turning out luxe but leisurely track pants and safari-style jackets in decadent silk charmeuse and diaphanous chiffons. From left: Dries Van Noten, 6267, Costume National
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15. Fresh Flamenco.—Expanding on past seasons' explosions of ruffles, we loved the virtual overdose of tiers and embellishments that sprung up, making spring's dresses and gowns look more like artful bouquets, à la Carmen Miranda. From left: Lanvin, Christian Lacriox, John Galliano, Lanvin
Images via style.com
Our top trends from Europe's Fashion Week Finale.
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