At Jil Sander, designer Raf Simons' modern color story packed the week's biggest punch. Set to a soaring soundtrack from the film "Psycho," which Hitchcock famously shot in black and white because he thought it would be too scary in Technicolor, the models lighted up the runway in shades of electric blue, acid green, tomato red, shocking pink and traffic-cone orange. (Because there is nothing so dangerous as a woman in living color.)
Long evening skirts were worn with simple white T-shirts or button-downs. (How amazing to bring back the evening-skirt-and-shirt combo! Remember when Sharon Stone wore a Gap turtleneck with a Vera Wang evening skirt at the 1998 Oscars?) Trousers were supersized and pleated, layered under oversized windbreakers, or slim blazers and T-shirts in contrasting colors, for a different take on color blocking.
Consuelo Castiglioni's quirky, cute Marni collection was about the graphic lines and prints of ocean sportswear, in a South Beach palette of aqua, mint green, peach, flamingo pink and sunshine yellow.
Less Esther Williams and more Gidget, these water babies wore two-tone swim caps (could they replace the turban as the offbeat headgear of the moment?), and sandals nearly as wide and flat as flippers. Stretchy shorts and tops color-blocked like rash guards were the foundations. On top were wet-look leather miniskirts, and zipper-front, scuba-inspired jackets. Mesh insets also added athletic appeal.
Mini dresses came in a charming daisy-chain lace, splashed with psychedelic-looking florals and geometric prints, or color-blocked with dime-sized paillettes in the graphic style of wetsuits.
The Etro collection had every element of the 1970s fashion revival — bohemian maxi-dresses, peasant blouses, jumpsuits and wood platform shoes, all canvases for the house's famous prints. There were also some strong tailored pieces, including a khaki pantsuit that could have come from Mary Tyler Moore's closet.
At Emilio Pucci, designer Peter Dundas reworked the famous Pucci prints by bleaching and tie-dying them in batik patterns. His rich hippies also wore bell bottoms, headscarves and schoolboy blazers, or maxi skirts slit high to reveal suede over-the-knee boots.
Roberto Cavalli's 40th anniversary show was a vision of '70s rock 'n' roll goddesses (hello, Cher!) in flared python pants clinging to the body with the help of row after row of delicate suede laces; luxurious crocodile jackets in snug-fitting shapes; airy animal-print chiffon maxi dresses with intricate crochet string bodices, and boho bags dangling fringe, feather and horn talismans.
It was all in the details at Dolce & Gabbana too, where their nearly all-white, haute homemade lace, crochet and macramé dresses, bloomers, pencil skirts and all-in-ones were made using the same techniques as the tablecloths and bed linens traditionally found in a Southern Italian bride's trousseau. Lacy looks included a long, flower-child prairie dress, a modish mini dress with front pockets and a classic fit-and-flare style, worn over retro satin underwear.
Inspired by the traditional indigo robes of the nomadic Tuareg people of Saharan North Africa, Giorgio Armani also explored the power of nuance through a single color — blue — albeit in a dozen different shades.
Jackets were cropped and fitted, woven from glossy satin strips, or bandleader style with covered buttons. Pants were just as interesting — simply pleated and tapered; subtly draped at the top like jodhpurs, or transparent. Organza leggings, perhaps?
When the last models came out — a man and a woman playing the parts of nomads, with images of rippling sand dunes projected behind them — it was clear that this season, Armani and his colleagues in Milan had really gone the distance.