[Images via Vogue Italia].
Miu Miu's vision for SS12 was decidedly girly, with lace and satin being the dominant fabrics and most pieces falling on, or just above, the knee. Bands of black had been transformed into capelets with ribbon ties, adding the finishing touch to layers of clothing. The use of a murky teal colour was fairly innovative for spring, considering most designers bombarded us with pastels.
If you were thinking things looked a bit far adrift without a Miu Miu print, panic not. Several pieces were given repeated motifs, which jarred nicely with the inky black lace. Make-up, meanwhile, really stood out - a sweep of matte red on lids and nude lips, but the hair seemed a little unimaginative. I would've liked to see black ribbons in there somewhere, maybe.
The look here is edging towards Renaissance glamour, which is very different to the kitsch of SS11. I'm not sure I can imagine current ambassador Hailee Steinfeld in any of these three outifts, without her seeming too mature for her age, but perhaps the capelets will work on the young celebrities such as Hailee that love Miu Miu.
As you can see from this parting shot, there was some patchworking and combining of different key fabrics that left a lot of the pieces feeling like re-workings of each other, trying to go one better than the one that came before. I think that patchwork could be a big trend if it's picked up by the high street, as Miu Miu has set a strong example with this coat (also available in other colours).
[Again, all images via Vogue Italia].
Balmain's SS12 collection played it safe with their classic shapes of skintight trousers and bold-shouldered jackets, alongside a muted colour palette. The focus was on embellishment and the incorporation of embroidery and brocade elements. I can see the middle look from this montage being hot for eveningwear next season, as it's easy for the high street to replicate using PVC and chunky belts or bangles to accessorize.
I love these shorts. Why? Because the embellishment doesn't try to hide the female form - it enhances it by emphasising the curve of your thighs (okay, so maybe that's not a big curve on the model, but you get what I mean). You just know that these shorts are made to be partied in, with chunky heeled boots and a simple top. The choice of black, with long sleeves and gold buttons, is a good one, but in everyday life you could pair them with a rock band-emblazoned vest or a slightly undone white shirt.
Further love of everything embellished, whether it be a power dress or a pair of trousers (though I do feel that the latter is a bit 90s - remember when we all had diamantes up the side of our jeans?). The middle option is what you might call metallic-lite, with simpler adornments that stick to key areas (shoulder and central shirt edge), so that the split skirt can really shine. It's clear that Balmain knows what works.
It wasn't all black at the show - here's a good example of a paler Balmain option, with baby blue brocade trousers (personally I wouldn't wear them, but they're certainly eyecatching). The vertical-horizontal meeting point of the gold belt and shirt edge is really nice and neat - you could replicate it quite easily with a selection of metallic fittings (studs, etc.) and a belt from a charity shop or market. This collection has really shown that the key Balmain styles will always be popular, and that loads of gold doesn't have to be tacky.