The sun-drenched plains of Africa and pre-Colombian civilisations appeared to be very much in the thoughts of fashion designers seeking inspiration for this summer. Ethnic motifs, animal prints - big cat spots and zebra stripes - along with safari apparel pervaded the 2012 spring-summer womenswear pret-a-porter collections, from smart cocktail numbers, to sporty day-wear and chic evening gowns. Designers in Italy, as well as abroad, also played up the crafty mood of tribal chic with precious beadwork, raffia details and fringes.
And the melting pot of ethnic inspirations embraced fashion jewels, bags and shoes as the sophisticated Africana and South American moods heated up summer styles. The palette was exotic with warm, strong colours - ivory, brown, orange, red, black and blue - dominating clothes which oozed aggressive femininity and a sunny sex appeal. Bold animal prints took centre stage at Roberto Cavalli with the Florentine designer enriching his trademark sexy silk gowns with zebra motifs - which also characterised abroad the collections of US brands Michaeol Kors and Proenza Schouler. Large, life-size zebra stripes were matched with the designer's iconic motifs, including a sensational golden dragon, both in his main collection and in the Just Cavalli junior line.
Animalier motifs were also a trademark style at Gucci where Frida Giannini made an appealing case for zebra stripes mixed with gold in ultra-chic jackets.
Alberta Ferretti and Trussardi embraced the safari mood - a seasonal must with a feminine take on crisp shirts, khaki skirts and shorts and safari jackets. Alberta Ferretti presented a sensational combo of casual chic and precious femininity with ensembles mixing for instance a khaki shirt to a brown skirt with crocheted, transparent details.
The tribal vibe took a strikingly modern turn at Bottega Veneta where a crisp collection rich in bold patterns with a pre-Colombian feel embellished luxurious summer dresses, including a splendid red pleated number with a white and black motif.
And the ethnic trend translated into sunny prints at Etro where this season's acid colours were mixed to a more romantic palette of pastels. Veronica Etro's trademark mismatched prints also encompassed 1920s lines - a trend which is looking forward to the next season - with drop-waisted dresses in bold tones.
Exoticism reigned at Salvatore Ferragamo with leopard-print silk skirts and gowns and bold prints in vibrant colours. Massimiliano Giornetti offered animal prints in a brown-ivory palette along with flower patterns in ruby, emerald green and sapphire blue, in a stylish collection also featuring jumpsuits.
And the chic take on this summer's ethnic mode also translated into the world of accessories, notably in the shoe collections of Santoni, Missoni and Marni, which revisited its trademark clog sandals. Maliparmi and Bottega Veneta offered a modern version of ethnic-inspired prints in their bag collections while Fendi presented a splendid woven raffia version of its bestseller Silvana bag in honour of Silvana Mangano.
Jewels mainly went African. The sophisticated Milan-based Rosantica jewellery line designed by Michela Panero presented a tribal-inspired collection of necklaces and bracelets while Stroilli Oro, an increasingly hip brand of low-priced gold jewels, launched an original, ethnic-style line of bracelets, necklaces and even tattoo-like pieces.
Pre-Colombian decor was the source of inspiration behind stunning Blumarine accessories, highlighted by a golden, fringe pendant necklace.