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Some lines from the great seventeenth-century British poet John Milton inspired Antonio Berardi’s sophisticated collection. “Was I deceiv’d,” wrote Milton, “or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?” In other words, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” said Berardi, who opened his show with a dress of pale, cloudy chiffon, its bodice encased in an armorial breastplate of platinum-colored, metallicized patent leather (with the reflective quality of car paint). The dress (with a high-in-front, long-in-back peacock train silhouette) was embellished with embroideries that looked almost eighteenth-century in their exquisite complexity but were made of sequins cut from that same leather: a thoroughly 21st-century conceit. “It shines, but it mirrors,” explained Berardi of that futuristic fabric, which he also used for his high strappy sandals and clutches, “and it acts as a kind of armor.”

The play of hard and soft, and matte and shine continued with that same leather used as a peplum, an arc-sleeved bolero, or a cuirassed corset, over liquid dresses and wide-leg pants in crepe and chiffon. The soft colors were ignited with lipstick-red, emerald, and raven’s-wing black. Berardi also cuts a mean fitted cocktail dress and an hourglass jacket (in translucent organza, for more of those shadow-play effects) with a forties femme-fatale edge, but an unlined jacket of fluid crepe (shown over those Oxford bags) has unimpeachable modern elegance. – by Hamish Bowles VOGUE