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Jan 18, 3:49 PM EST

Milan Fashion designers celebrate normality


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MILAN (AP) -- Tactile fashion is setting the trend on Sunday, the second day of Milan Fashion Week previews for next autumn and winter menswear.

Designers are luxuriating in mohair, cashmere and heavy knits, enveloping men in rich, luxurious knitwear, including oversized scarves, chunky sweaters and slumping caps. Dark shades dominate, with some flashes of pink, purple and red offering contrast and whimsy.

Here are some highlights:

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GENDER INTERPLAY

Miuccia Prada's mostly black-on-black collection created the perfect canvas to continue the designer's examination of gender interplay in fashion.

So when Prada created a short-sleeved slate gray notched-collar jacket for men, it became the bodice of a dress for a woman. And a nylon men's jacket, with just a few sartorial sashays, was transformed into pretty belted office or party dresses with the added detail of grosgrain ribbon bow accents. The final tally: 30 looks for men, 20 for women, all, the designer said, aimed to be `'elegant and modern."

Prada's sought-after footwear included flat knee- and ankle-boots, as well as sneakers with contrasting wave pattern along the sole.

There was just one flash of color: a red and black plaid woolen trench. `'I was fixated. No one wanted to put in the show, I said I like to do some mistakes," she said.

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ORIENT EXPRESS

Missoni's man is an artist seeking inspiration on the trans-Siberian railway, according to designer Angela Missoni.

He's a mélange, matching oriental-rug pattern V-neck sweaters with plaid suits, in shades of ink blue as deep as a poet's eyes. And his creative energy is expressed in the kinetic knit patterns, a frenetic argyle on one trouser leg, in shades of crimson and burgundy, and in tiny rectangular repetitions on the other.

His carefree nature is summed up in the sweep of the big multi-colored scarves. And his curiosity about the lands he traverses comes through in the ethnic tunic tops.

Missoni continued its collaboration with Converse with a silken sports boot, at times with embroidered desert flowers, worn with cashmere socks.

ENCHANTING IMAGES

Massimiliano Giornetti wraps his looks for Salvatore Ferragamo in humungous scarves - signaling comfort chic, Milan's overriding message for next winter.

The underlying charm in the Ferragamo menswear collection came from the animal motifs that created a sense of enchantment. Geese fly placidly across the back of a suit jacket, announcing winter's arrival. A shaggy buffalo peers watchfully from the side of a plaid double-breasted jacket or the front of a pullover. A zebra arches gracefully across the back of a peacoat, and a pink dragon fly is embroidered on a suit jacket sleeve.

The creatures, embedded in the garments, gave the collection an artistic, narrative flair. In keeping with the theme, bronze and horn claws become buckles and brooches.

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BOTTEGA VENETA

A soft corduroy jacket exemplifies the sort of lived-in looks at the heart of Bottega Veneta's collection for next autumn and winter. The jacket comes in surprising and pleasing shades of purple, dusty rose and green and is layered over knitwear and worn with baggy elastic-waist trousers.

Creative director Tomas Maier says the collection "is not about meticulous dressing, everything matching or looking brand new." In other words, comfort and personal style are key.

Color contrast gives it all spark: purple against rust; aqua green under a yellowish green; salmon pink with camel.

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MOHAIR MOP

Alessandro Dell'Acqua's fuzzy mohair skullcap, the key accessory for his latest No. 21 collection, is bound to be an instant hit next winter - providing both warmth and slumped-down style.

Dell'Acqua, presenting the third collection of his No. 21 line named for his lucky number and birthday, found comfort in mohair, which besides caps also turned up as bulky sweaters, featuring diamond, argyle or arching mermaid patterns, and socks worn under velvet sandals.

The color palate was blue and black, with just a flash of yellow.

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SWAT-TEAM CHIC

There was a SWAT team chic uniform quality to the Calvin Klein collection for next year.

Italo Zucchelli's tone-on-tone outfits leaned toward an austere gray, black and blue palate, often in pebbled, cheetah prints. While there were tailored suits, the uniform vibe came through most strongly in the short-waisted jackets with a plethora of pockets worn with correspondingly high-waist trousers. Jackboots and leather baseball caps completed the uniform - for which there was also an optional rain poncho.

Zucchelli continued his exploration of high-tech fabrics, creating oversized trousers and cropped bomber jackets in vinyl and knitting Fair isle sweaters from an Alpaca/nylon mesh.

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