MILAN (AP) - Fashion is always about renewal, but this round of Milan Fashion Week it's not just the collections that are getting a fresher-upper but, it seems, much of the Italian fashion system.

MILAN (AP) Fashion is always about renewal, but this round of Milan Fashion Week it's not just the collections that are getting a fresher-upper but, it seems, much of the Italian fashion system.

Gucci's new designer Alessandro Michele, a brand insider little known until now in the wider fashion world, made his runway debut on the first day of womenswear previews Wednesday, giving the historic brand a clean break from the past.

Michele's launch is a fitting banner to a period emphasizing new talent in Milan, which also featured a live runway competition between five young designers sponsored by the Italian Fashion Chamber. At the same time, recently discovered young designers, like Stella Jean and Fausto Puglisi, have quickly established themselves as an integral part of the fashion calendar, which comprises 68 shows and 76 presentations.

"I am hoping this is the beginning of a new phase, accelerating the growth of the new designers," Italian Fashion Chamber CEO Jane Reeve said in a recent interview.

Here's are some of Wednesday's highlights:

GUCCI DISCONTINUITY

Alessandro Michele strove for discontinuity in his Gucci debut, relaunching the brand with romantic flourishes against a hardened, urban background.

His debut collection displayed a confident break with the past, reasserting the double-G brand logo with prominent belt-buckle placings in the opening and closing looks but also introducing a new motif: birds in flight.

The collection snatched elements from the hastily assembled menswear collection, a team effort, shown last month after his predecessor Frida Giannini's earlier-than-expected departure. There were the same elaborate poet bows on silken shirts and loose-fitting suits with contrast piping, nods to androgyny for both men and women.

Michele put his signature on the new collection with a pleated chiffon-y floral dress with a built-in cape; a crinkled leather dress in peacock blue and military-style coats with fur trim that had an antique feel. A red dress with pleated tiers was paired with flats for the perfect day-into-evening look.

Footwear included whimsical furry slip-ons, fitting for either a Hobbit or Dr. Seuss character, depending on your sphere of reference. Glasses complemented the looks.

Running in just as the lights went down was Selma Hayak Pinault, who is married to the CEO of the French conglomerate Kering that owns Gucci.

PASSAGE TO INDIA

Haitian-Italian designer Stella Jean's looks zigzag the globe from England to Haiti, Italy to India, yet always respecting the borders.

For next winter, the designer has climbed high into the Himalayans for inspiration, giving rise to richly woven cropped sweaters paired with big, feminine 1950s style skirts, coats decorated with colorful tassels of yarn and high-waist men's plaid trousers belted with an embroidered double bag worn.

Stella Jean's adherence to Italian tailoring ground the looks, keeping them from veering to the purely ethnic.

"All this color hits you hard, but if you pay attention in every single piece there is the Italian tailoring, the Italian tradition. It is the element that helps me balance the strong impact of the color. It is also the key for the multicultural crossover," she said.

She finishes the looks with bangles made in Haiti, including broad bracelets worn over the sweater above the elbow. Shoes are flats, allowing the mountain climber to make it down to the city streets of London, Paris and Milan.