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.

No. 21’s Liberating Sexiness

Godfrey Deeny
February 23rd, 2011 @ 8:15 PM - Milan

If you really want to see a great statement of sophisticated Italian fashion, by an Italian designer who understands how to create an urbane modern cool style then do check out a collection of No. 21 by Alessandro Dell’Acqua.

The fall 2011 collection of No. 21 – named after the day of the month when Dell’Acqua was born – was presented Wednesday, Feb. 23, in Milan, and the applause when the designer took his bow was pretty thunderous. For Italian fashion followers are enormously proud of Dell’Acqua, since he manages to achieve that delicate balancing act of creating sexy clothes that are still ultimately lady like.

Using his preferred mix of fabrics – reinforced lace, neoprene like satin and bold knits – the designer created a new take on alluring chic, a bold statement that sexy can be proudly feminine and not cheap. Especially in an Italy, where the country’s premier, billionaire businessman Silvio Berlusconi, was indicted this month on charges of allegedly paying for the services of a 17-year-old prostitute.

“Not exactly politics, more Zizi Jeanmaire,” commented the designer, referring to the French dancer most famous for her interpretation of Carmen, the greatest femme fatale in ballet.
The show’s opening look featured a Victoria Beckham look-alike model with short hair and a fringe over her eyes wearing an open cardigan and a T-shirt cut all the way down to her midriff, a trick Dell’Acqua used in several outfits that were suggestive, yet never vulgar.

Metallic cardigan cocktails, beautifully cut ecru sheathes and elegant lace redingotes all underlined his clever sense of posh yet practical style. And just when you thought that he was playing too safe, the designer wowed with a stunning feather trimmed off white cocktail embellished with a cityscape made of golden sequins.

Finished with rose coral earrings, slim clutches and chunky mannish watches, the whole scene was the epitome of good taste. Even his odd faux pas, like a series of over fussy toga dresses which a trio of models looked awkward wearing, had a certain charm.

There was not that many major foreign magazine editors at this show; Dell’Acqua does not have a big advertising budget. But the deafening roar at the finale was telling; for knowledgeable insiders could appreciate this was classy designer putting in a polished performance. Welcome to the new self-assured sexy.

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