Milan Days and Nights

Narciso Rodriguez, flying solo, showed real clothes for real women.

KRIZIA: Move over, Demi. You're not the only pebble on this glorious fashion beach.

Sitting in the front row at Krizia and swathed in a golden-toned coat to match her legendary mane was none other than Farrah Fawcett, one of the first great media icons of the buff generation.

Nostalgics will be thrilled to know that Farrah still looks as taut as when she chased down bad guys for Charlie back in the old days. That's good news for Mariuccia Mandelli, too, because she likes her customers to show their assets.

And this season they'll have plenty to choose from, as Mandelli showed one of her strongest, most controlled collections in some time.

There were lots of minis, both fluid and crisp, some with nude insets and plastic straps, some splashed with vibrant streaks of color. But there were also long dresses and skirts with a vaguely Eastern feeling and, on a wilder note, skimpy asymmetric ombred dresses that had shades of Jane (as in Tarzan).

Throughout, Mandelli worked with a controlled eye -- and hand. And, after 43 years in business, she and her husband, Aldo Pinto, are assessing the company with an equally cool approach. Krizia now has 32 licensees, including jeans and young sportswear collections, two young apparel collections for the Japanese market, accessories, fragrances and a new home collection that will bow at the firm's boutiques this fall.

Pinto and Mandelli claim annual sales reached around $300 million last year.

Explaining why they might consider a public offering, Mandelli said, "It's not that we need to develop -- we already have too much to do -- but it's essential that we start thinking now about what's going to happen 20 years from now."

But for the time being, Mariuccia is content to get clothes on the front page of every Italian newspaper: Farrah may not be such big news in America, but when she jumped onstage with Mandelli, dropped her droopy coat and revealed one of Krizia's scant black minis, the paparazzi went wild.

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