Eric Wilson is InStyle's fashion news director. For more real-time insights during Fashion Month, follow him on Twitter and Instagram

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Milan Fashion Week ended on Monday under a steady, dreary rainfall and a canopy of umbrellas, though the fall collections were chipper enough to offer some respite. In fact, several designers here seemed intent on stretching their imaginations this season with clothes that under normal circumstances (meaning, not on a runway) would certainly read as optimistic.

Take the Dolce & Gabbana collection, where the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana embraced a fashion fairy tale theme, playing theme songs from animated films along with a little bippity boppity boo. Their set opened with magical chandeliers entwined with Sleeping Beauty’s thorny roses, and the clothes that followed included references to Cinderella (clear “glass” slippers and a matching handbag for a model in a glittering blue dress) and Beauty and the Beast (teapots appeared as embroidery details throughout, below). Mice, dwarves, cats, and apples, possibly poisoned, also had their respective looks here in a cheery show that did not skimp on embellishment. By the time the finale looks of pink and scarlet sequined dresses came round, there was nothing you could say but that the story ended happily ever after, at least for anyone who’s a sucker for Disney movies. Guilty!

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Marni’s Consuelo Castiglioni had a terrific show that was based on capes, starting with one that clasped the shoulders in a death grip and draped beautifully along the back (below left). That look set the tone for a show that included inventive wide trousers in men’s wear checks, creased so sharply that the clothes could have probably stood up on their own, and stiff Prince of Wales coats decorated with tiny glittering beads and large plastic paillettes in recycling blue. Capes figured strongly in the collections of Salvatore Ferragamo and Missoni as well, the former with athletic tops and multi-layer pleated skirts that buttoned together to form a sort of color blocking effect (below, middle), and the latter with delicious rainbow stripes on scarves, ponchos, and wraps (below, right). Angela Missoni added a touch of athleisure with Missoni zig-zag sneakers worn with pastel layered dresses that looked exceptionally fresh.

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A few other things worth noting from the week: One of the most engaging shows was not just on the runway, but also, in front of it. Guests entering the Tod’s show encountered a live installation by Vanessa Beecroft (fashion’s favorite artist) in which the supermodel Karlie Kloss was draped over a table as if she were being sewn into a garment (top). It caused lots of rubbernecking on the way in and on the way out, along with the requisite Instagram pictures. But the meaning was more poignant, a tribute by the house to all of the Italian artisans who actually make those fine luxury goods under the label.

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Something Giorgio Armani said during his press remarks on Monday struck me as particularly timely this season, as he complained that many of the Milan shows lacked “clearly emphasized ideas.” I’ve felt the same sense of confusion in many collections, but not his. The theme was black velvet, and there was lots of it to go around, like a strapless evening gown with insets of lace (below, left), and as trim on a chic tweed pantsuit.

Also clear was the DSquared2 collection where the designers Dan and Dean Caten were focused on outerwear with an assortment of military jackets, wraparound tapestry furs, and capes that played like a greatest hits show (above, right). They know their strengths.