MILAN FASHION PHOTOS: From Emporio Armani to Max Mara, designers are cocooning for next winter

MILAN — If there is one theme emerging at Milan Fashion Week, it is cocooning, hunkering down, enveloping one’s self in comfort clothing.

No one is mentioning the wars and political divisions cleaving the globe, but it’s clear that if they aren’t in the forefront of designers’ minds, the drive for self-protection is a subliminal part of the Zeitgeist.

Here are some highlights from mostly womenswear previews for fall-winter 2024-25 on Thursday, the second day of Milan Fashion Week:

Outside it poured rain. Inside the Emporio Armani showroom, models delighted in a dusting of (fake) snow, some twirling down the runway with umbrellas aloft.

Giorgio Armani said he instructed models to smile. “And it worked!” he told reporters after the runway show.

The Emporio Armani collection for youthful dressers projected a sense of fun-loving frivolity, easy-to-wear day-to-day looks for women of all ages.

Jackets were soft, sometimes layered. A shearling coat opened into a fun, furry shawl collar. Trousers gathered casually at the ankle. Polka-dotted poet blouses with berets offered a romantic, even Bohemian air. Tulle skirts paired with sequin tops in a nostalgic gesture.

Stars gave a dreamlike motif to dark velvet looks. The closing evening looks, including sheer tops and full skirts, glistened under the paper snow that gathered on the runway.

“I wanted to be coherent with myself, that is to make clothes that are wearable,” Armani said, with “just a little showmanship.”

The silhouette is everything at Max Mara for the next cold weather season.

Creative director Ian Griffiths’ mood board included silken teddies, Belle Epoque’-inspired boule coats and photos of the French novelist Colette, whose spare style, the British designer said, inspired the collection’s simplicity.

Griffiths chose a palette of midnight blue, black and gray monochromes, all the better to discern the rich silhouettes of the sweeping boule coats defined by elegant blousing on the back like a bomber jacket, trousers and skirts that sweep into sarong knots, triple-tier detailing on the back of short coats, kimono-inspired sleeves, soft pleated, wide-legged trousers, and leg-baring woolen daytime rompers.

The must-have accessory was a knit cummerbund worn with a thin belt, defining the waistline in any look. Evening wear, with a practicality that translates to the day, had a hint of dark crystal adornment. The bag of the season was a no-nonsense cross-body with metal clasps.

Griffiths said he returned to “boule, cocoon shapes” inspired by the 1910s and 1920s that he first experimented with at university in the mid-1980s.

“You can always come back to something. If not next season, maybe in 40 years you can come back to it. And every time it will be different,’’ Griffiths said backstage.

Peter Hawkings is single-handedly bringing back skin-tight trousers and plunging necklines at the helm of the Tom Ford fashion house.

In his second season as creative director, Hawkings continued to refine the brand’s sexy codes. The tight-plunging looks are as fitting for him as for her, accented by a lariat gold chain.

The co-ed collection opened with dark form-fitting military coats accented with golden buttons, suggesting discipline and rigor. Underneath, things got a little hotter.

For her: Monochrome looks included fitted trousers with clingy cardigans opened to the belly button, sleek long jersey knit dresses and barely-there evening dresses constructed entirely from shimmering beads. Tiered, ruffled dresses had peek-a-boo slits. Looks were finished with stilettos, of course.

Menswear was equally form-fitting, from chest-baring leather ensembles to dance floor-ready suits with a light-catching sheen. Never a tie.