Designers shake up classic styles as Milan promotes fashion

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[February 22, 2014]  By Isla Binnie

MILAN (Reuters)  Classic tailoring received an injection of volume and humor from Giorgio Armani and a shot of bold color from Donatella Versace in Milan on Friday, as the city showed off Italy's fashion industry amid political and economic uncertainty.

Fashion fans filled Armani's cavernous theatre and Versace's venue, which was decked out with metal gates and ivy, on the third day of the city's biannual women's fashion week.

Armani dressed models for his youth-focused Emporio Armani line in voluminous trousers pinstriped with lines of pearls, plexiglass neckties and oversized bowler hats.

"I wanted to understand if Chanel-style tailoring makes sense for the girls in the street," the 79-year-old designer said after the show. "It makes sense for them as a historical idea of fashion, but revised, adapted to their mentality."

Versace showed flowing fishtail gowns, long-sleeved shift dresses and figure-hugging trouser suits in bright red, petrol blue and green. Jackets and sweaters bore tasseled epaulettes.

At Blumarine, models sashayed down a white furry carpet in slashed cocktail dresses which showed a thin layer of lace covering visible skin beneath.

Italy's National Chamber of Fashion (CNMI) is promoting the industry as a bright spot in an economy only just emerging from its longest slump since World War II, and has set up billboards reading "Welcome to Milan Fashion Week" at the city's main airports.

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The CNMI forecasts turnover from clothing and accessories to grow to 62.5 billion euros ($85.91 billion) in 2014, after two years in decline.

Italy is in the process of installing a new government and fashion week shows the country's strengths even as political concerns swirl, said Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani.

"In spite of what's happening in our government we are a reaction to stay something's good, something's positive."

Armani said new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi must pay "real attention" to the fashion industry.

($1 = 0.7275 euros)

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by Andrew Roche)

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