By Isla Binnie
MILAN (Reuters) - Hooded models walked in an enchanted forest and fox-fur mixed with lambskin on Milan's catwalks on Sunday as the city's women's fashion week drew to an end in a positive mood.
A frosty oak tree rose from beneath the stage in a flurry of snow at Dolce and Gabbana before models glided out in clothes stitched with squirrels, foxes and childlike flowers.
Salvatore Ferragamo showed a textured collection of furry coats, metallic dresses and leopard-print skirt suits for autumn and winter, in a startlingly bright white room.
As Italy installs a new government and struggles to emerge from recession, the national chamber of fashion (CNMI) is strongly promoting a sector it forecasts will earn 62.5 billion euros ($85.63 million) in revenue in 2014.
Billboards at Milan's airports read "Welcome to Milan Fashion Week" and screens in the city's streets are streaming footage of the catwalks, which finish on February 24.
Ferragamo Chief Executive Michele Norsa said before the brand's show he hoped the new government could make changes that would directly benefit the luxury industry.
"For our sector what is really important is the capacity to attract attention, traffic, tourism and invest in infrastructure. I think (the new government) can do some of these things, and I hope they do them quite quickly."
Beppe Angiolini, head of the Italian Chamber of Fashion Buyers, said he found the mood during the fashion week, which ends on February 24, "quite positive".
"The (CNMI) is making an enormous effort to ensure the Made in Italy brand is valued," Angiolini said. "We have so many companies that produce amazing things, such craftsmanship."
Salvatore Ferragamo creative director Massimiliano Giornetti said the "clinical" white setting for his show was chosen to emphasize the expertise behind the pieces.
"The artisanal workmanship behind the collection is the focus," Giornetti said. He said the fusion of different furs like beaver and fox created "a fantastic animal".
Greenpeace protesters hoisted a banner reading "Toxic Lies" outside Dolce and Gabbana's show, after saying last week they found harmful chemicals in the brand's clothes.
Inside the venue, British socialite Tamara Beckwith said the show, which also featured metallic knitted helmets recalling the Norman conquerors of Dolce's native Sicily, was food for the imagination.
"It looks like they have such fun creating these stories," Beckwith said, describing one furry hooded outfit as a "Little Red Riding Hood ensemble".
Elsewhere at Milan fashion week on Sunday, knitwear specialist Missoni broke up its trademark zigzags to offer a sporty women's wardrobe strewn with geometric shapes.
High-profile guests included Oscar-winning actress Hillary Swank at Ferragamo and former Wonderbra supermodel Eva Herzigova at Dolce and Gabbana.
($1 = 0.73 euro)
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Eric Walsh)