Every curvaceous, corsetted line shouted woman - think the spaghetti-sated va-va-voom silhouette of Sophia Loren.
The old phrase 'Italians Do It Better' certainly applies to sex - or at least it's expression through fashion. Antonio Berardi, if not Sicilian-born then certainly Sicilian-bred, is a case in point. Berardi's clothes exude uncontrollable sex appeal from every sinuously curved seam, somehow managing to steer just the right side of slutty. This season, after molto years in Milan and a quick jaunt in Paris, Berardi was back showing in London, a first since 1998. Like any good Catholic homecoming, Berardi first stop was a richly ornamented Mayfair church, albeit showing his wares to this most secular of congregations. Christian piety stopped there. Berardi's look revolved around underwear-as-outerwear: admittedly an old chestnut, but a good one that Berardi has spent his career honing to a trademark. Accordingly, for spring Berardi stuck to what he knows. Corsets were the leitmotif, spliced into tough, short dresses with layered peplums, corset lacing snaked through crystal-encrusted boleros, and contour lines snaked over breast, under buttock and around the waist. Stiff, boned bustiers formed the basis of strapless dresses and jackets alike, while bra-straps wrapped over contrasting frocks, themselves sliced open with mesh panneling in a constant game of peek-a-boo.
Next season's still-ubiquitious emphasised shoulders asserted themselves in short jackets, with wide sleeves composed of layered panes of brocade or organza. These were redolent of both Renaissance portraits and medieval armour - but make no mistake, there was nothing masculine about this collection. Every curvaceous, corsetted line shouted woman - think the spaghetti-sated va-va-voom silhouette of Sophia Loren. It wasn't all great: strident blue and orange tailoring jarred against an otherwise refined palette of flesh, silver, pious black and purest Communion white, and you couldn't help but feel Berardi reiterated his sexpot point one too many times. But with a defined and refined statement such as this, it seems churlish to complain when a designer delivers a bit too much.