Pictured, from left to right: Runway shows at Dsquared, Dolce & Gabbana, and Giorgio Armani.

Is fashion a fairy tale? Or more like an insane asylum? These were the questions raised at the end of the Milan collections, where designers offered surprisingly divisive views of the fall season.

On the glass-half-full side reside Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, whose Dolce & Gabbana show was one of the most charming of the week, romantic and unusually innocent, with an elaborate woodland set with a revolving tree and snowfall at the end of the runway. Their designs incorporated elements of countless childhood stories, with sly foxes embroidered along the hem of an emerald cape, owls on branches, mysterious keys, and a red-hooded fur coat that nodded to you-know-who. On the less embellished side were a few corseted dress with the laces coming undone (for a Dolce damsel in distress) and a fair helping of practical nipped-waist suits and jewel-tone coats.

At the other extreme (glass of water served with two pills) was the DSquared collection by Dan and Dean Caten. They set their show in a psych ward, with nurses in white miniskirts, bejeweled arm braces and a soundtrack that included snippets from Grey Gardens and, from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Bette Davis saying, “But you are Blanche, you are in that chair!” So it was a little crazy, or “twisted,” as the designers said during a preview in their showroom. And though the accessories might have been in questionable taste, the collection, now far more luxe than the denim fare that made the brothers successful, actually held it together fairly well. Like Dolce & Gabbana, it was heavy on capes, though at DSquared one came in gray plastic shards and topped with fur, or, for evening, in an emerald floor-sweeping version over a dramatic black dress.

Giorgio Armani, the last collection of the week, remained on neutral ground. In fact, it was called “Fade to Gray,” a smart, spare study of shadows on cozy-looking felt. In addition to his signature jackets, Armani showed a loose-leg trouser with wide pleats that looked great in versions both dressy and casual, the latter as track pants with citron stripes on the sides. Ferragamo’s Massimiliano Giornetti was similarly cast in a dark, textural palette, with plaid stadium coats and jackets with high collars (one in a toned-down animal print).

marco de vincenzoVincenzo Lombardo/Getty Images

Among the younger designers who are making their mark on Milan, Marco de Vincenzo carried forward his play on kinetic art from spring, now rendering vivid optical treatments in tartan and camel coats. A dark tartan dress, for example, was split at the side to reveal a skirt of pleated lurex in glittering rainbow colors (pictured, right). “I started to think of classics, and then totally transformed them,” de Vincenzo said.

Somebody must have been impressed. LVMH announced on Monday it had taken a minority stake in the brand in a deal that Reuters estimated was worth 10 to 20 million euros.

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