No Versace Ticket, No Dolce & Gabbana Beefcake

It wouldn't be fashion season in Europe if I didn't spend at least one afternoon in a mental muddle. Today, the last day of the Milan shows, was that day. I threw my Versace invitation in the trash. This was not a commentary on the show. It happened during a frenzy of handbag organization when I began tossing out pretty much everything in sight except my wallet and my umbrella.

Bagonghi in Velvet Petit Rouge by Roberta di Camerino

I discovered my lack of an invitation as I was walking up to the entrance of the show. Luckily, the nice PR person from the New York office smiled in empathy, cleared a path and pointed me towards the bar. Yes, virtually every show in Milan offers some sort of libation or nibble. New York likes to leave goodie bags on the seats at shows. They're typically filled with giveaways from whatever company is sponsoring the show. If I took home every goodie-filled sack, I'd have a year's supply of Redken shampoo in my closet. In Paris, where I'll arrive on Saturday, few shows offer anything additional other than attitude.

One of the tragedies of the jam-packed Milan schedule is that I have so little time to visit showrooms and small presentations where designers present their work on mannequins or in other intersting displays. I did manage to get to the Roberta di Camerino presentation of handbags. The company was founded some 50 years ago and has been relaunched under new ownership. Founder Giuliana Coen was on hand and talked about how she created her first bags, which introduced such ideas as trompe l'oeil.

The frame bags are made from fabrics such as velvet, but also exotic skins like crocodile. The velvet ones are particularly lightweight. One of the bags, called the Bagonghi, was carried by Grace Kelly. Next to Audrey Hepburn, I'd say that is the ultimate celebrity fashion endorsement.

The bags are pricey, 'natch. They run in the $1,000 vicinity and higher.

While we were there, we chatted with the fashion director of Bloomingdale's who was REALLY excited about the bags and pretty much told Giuliana: We want to buy these! I was thinking the same thing.

This afternoon, I went to the Dolce & Gabbana show where I was treated to an unobstructed view of celebrity row. Among the famous: Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Matthew McConaughey, Dita Von Teese and a very tall brunette who was wearing the sparkly high-heeled brogues from the fall collection, which I happen to know cost more than 2,100 euro. That's like $3,000, people. For a pair of shoes!

The ladies all posed on the runway for the photographers. The men went directly to their seats. Frankly, I'd rather have gotten a good full length view of McConaughey rather than J-Lo, but the photographers are mostly men. So there you go. Robbed of the beefcake.

By Robin Givhan |  September 26, 2008; 7:22 AM ET Milan
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