Antonio Berardi is your go-to guy for a sexy slip of a mini-dress: that's an established fashion fact. Of course, what many people don't realise is the fact that a designer must be a master tailor to make a dress cleave to the curves with quite such pizzaz. This season, Antonio decided to explore new territory for the Berardi woman: daywear.
Very good it looked too, pulling tuck-and-fold puffy peplums and barrel-back coats straight from fifties couture, but rendering them feather-light in foamy fabrics. They were rather well-behaved for Berardi, so he couldn't resist the urge to slit the day dresses to the crotch, or send out the peplums by themselves as thigh-high, voluminous mini-skirts that sat halfway between Dior's New Look and Lacroix circa 1987. More subtle were the hourglass contrast backs, in lapis blue and powder-pink shantung for example, sketching an hourglass contour across the rear of a coat.
Around the middle of the show, Berardi began to fold his jackets around the body, literally fusing an evening dress with a tailored jacket, a single sleeve and tailored block jutting proud of gladiator-skirted dresses. That felt a bit Schiaparelli and could easily have flitted into an eye-rolling Surrealist homage, but the technique remained impressive, and controlled. As controlled, indeed, as the corset-bodice frocks that made up the rest of the show, long, short, crusted with lace or embroidery in ivory, anthracite and shell-pink. They are Berardi's comfort zone, and he spun them out with glee. Occasionally the embellishment became too much - and some of the skirts were a touch too tight for models navigating a flight of stairs in five-inch custom Manolo Blahnik needle-heels, let alone a woman going about her daily life - but Berardi's evident expertise allowed him a few foibles.