MILAN Italian designer Valentino scarcely bothered to dress the women in his menswear show on Monday, putting five topless dancers behind a mock-up cocktail bar in his presentation for spring and summer 2008.
The dancers -- who wore red sparkling thongs and black and red feathered wings -- took some attention from the line-up of designs which 75-year-old Valentino Garavani suggested for next spring.
Valentino is better known for his trademark red evening dresses and sweeping gowns, worn by stars like Sophia Loren.
The only unexpected glimpse of male flesh was a bit of ankle on the models who were all smartly turned out without socks.
Valentino, celebrating 45 years as a designer this year, stuck to a classic, colonial look for his boys for the next hot season, decking them out in creams, beiges and petrol blues.
The presentation kept models posed and chatting while the audience moved past them, the reverse of a catwalk event when models strut past seated reviewers.
The mood of a previous era was evoked in pocket handkerchiefs and neckerchiefs -- in patterns of beiges, creams and a dark vintage racing green.
Suits were pinstriped or Prince of Wales check.
The designer gave his evening wear a spin with black polka dot shirts or geometric design jackets, while he used ice cream-colors to band cashmere jumpers that peeped from under pinstripe suits.
Valentino, whose brand is being bought by private equity fund Permira in a deal valuing it at 2.6 billion euros ($3.50 billion), took a bow after the show in a conservative beige suit with classic blue and white broad striped shirt.
Gucci designer Frida Giannini also stepped back in time for her spring sartorial thoughts, with a playful collection which drew on films of some 50 years ago.
"The inspiration was more a mood than a place," the designer told Reuters after the show. "The ... film stars of the 1950s ... the tailoring was '50s and '60s Cinecitta," she added.
Models walked out in strides sporting a variety of checks from gingham to Prince of Wales, using a black and white base with splashes of red, orange and vivid yellow.
There were flat, peaked caps -- also in checks -- and monochrome spot ties to contrast.
Giannini, in her third menswear collection for the brand, ran the check mood into beach shorts, teamed with gauzy floral tops in the same colors, or with a bright red canvas jacket that looked fit for a lifeguard.
Red ran into evening wear in slim, low-slung cummerbunds shocking against white evening suits and black silk shirts.
But even in her formal wear, Giannini eschewed waistcoats which have featured in many other shows during Milan's spring and summer 2008 menswear season, which runs to June 27.