If there's one thing we know about the Antonio Berardi woman, it's that she's definitely not shy and retiring. She wears dresses so short they necessitate matching embroidered knickers, buckles her multi-strap fetishy sling-backs high on bare legs, and revels in frocks spliced with plenty of chiffon panels to flash glimpses of cheeky flesh beneath. In short, she's no wallflower.
At the same time, there's a fine line between nymphette and nymphomaniac - one Berardi has lamentably crossed a few times prior. For spring/summer, however, Berardi's hand was sure. The season normally gives him the opportunity to bare some toned and tanned flesh, but this time he kept it covered up, by and large. As with so many other designers, Berardi's femininity was tinged with futurism. In his case, rather than chopping chiffon into his taut dresses, he stitched-up breastplates of silvery PVC that resembled mother-of-pearl, sometime cutting the same into rounded-shoulder bolero jackets. Traditional meets modern. That felt fresh from Berardi, as did his diva evening dresses, flecked with embroidery but cut with a new ease that allowed his models to move freely. Some fell from a flattering high was, gathered Directoire style into a narrow hem- other took the opposite route, flaring from the thigh but gently cupping the body from breast to buttocks.
That ease was evident throughout the show, Berardi's body-conscious signature loosened up somewhat. Those waist-gripping dresses were still in evidence, of course, but georgette was fashioned into go-faster tent shapes, thigh-high at front and whipping into short trains behind. The best of those came scrolled with old-fashioned bead embroidery - claret across palest mint-green was stand-out - or layered over sequin-encrusted fitted trousers. Trousers: there's something that's often forgotten on the Berardi catwalk, quite literally - he loves a jacket-dress over bare legs that boy. There were a slew of great pairs today, in pale blush blocked with maroon or black with white, cut high and wide in a couple of slightly slouchy, androgynous suits. They were less than androgynous when they cinched the waist in sheer organza. Make that very sheer, the seams of the jacket just about preserving modest above waist (lucky it was cut to skim mid-thigh). With a lining, however, they will have a life off the catwalk, and not just on the Berardi army of femme fatales who never shy away from a bit of full-frontal.