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MILAN - It was time to grow up at Milan fashion week on Wednesday as Gucci's sex kitten and D&G's baby doll developed into elegant women.

Gucci took a step away from its drainpipe trousers and clingtight skirts last season when Alessandra Facchinetti took over from star designer Tom Ford, and the feminine touch flowed again for winter 2005.

One of the biggest changes was the move from black on black with black decoration to a subtler palette of midnight blue, steely grey and bright splashes of teal blue and purple.

Drainpipes gave way to super-slim satin pencil trousers which were just that bit more flattering to curves, while skirts were cut straight to the knee with a stretchy slit up the back.

"It was much more 'material woman' than 'material girl', " said one US critic after the show.

Gucci, owned by French retail giant Pinault Printemps Redoute, is one of those luxury brands that rings in the cash with iconic bags and boots, and next season the tills will be punching out four-figure sums.

Handbags were cut in big box shapes from thick crocodile and snake skin that glinted under the catwalk lights.

Most outfits were paired with knee-high boots made of luscious leathers with a midnight blue crocodile skin lip arching out of the top.

For cold days, Gucci provided jackets of every shape and form, from neat velvet tops to fur puffs to hefty jackets that wrapped wide across the shoulders then slimmed down to a narrow hip-band and a short, straight crocodile band at the bottom.

At D&G, the usual flow of flesh-baring was tamed with dashes of Elizabethan influence.

Short, chiffon baby-doll dresses just skimmed below the bottom but could easily morph into flowery empire-line tops by the time they make it to the shop rail.

The D&G girl typically loves to dress up and this season she raided a historical wardrobe, splitting a burgundy lace and velvet high-necked dress right up the thigh and pairing a Regency-style floor-length purple cape with jeans.

Shrunken granny cardigans sat cockily over ballerina skirts of gauze that showed models' gold underwear beneath while D&G's trademark tight jeans were paired with Elizabethan long-cuffed white shirts and neat black velvet jackets.

"Pretty rebellious but prettily rebellious," said one guest on his way out of the show.