Gucci in spotlight as Milan kicks off in upbeat mood

Celebrity-packed New York and quirky London
have offered up their best efforts under the relentless glare of the catwalk
lights and the world’s media. Now it is time for the real heavyweights of
Planet Fashion to put their
stamp on what well-heeled women the world over will be wearing when the good
weather comes around again next year.

Milan’s Spring/Summer 2016 shows kicked off on Wednesday in the most
optimistic mood Italian industry insiders have known for years thanks to a
backdrop of strong sales at home and abroad and a revamp of the city’s
fashion
week infrastructure.

With a new headquarters and exhibition facilities amidst the
skyscrapers of
the new Porta Nuova business district, organisers are anticipating an upbeat
week in a metropolis already enjoying the spinoffs from the buzz generated
by
Expo 2015, the food-themed world fair that still has another six weeks to
run.

All eyes on Gucci

All eyes on the first of six packed days of shows were on Gucci, whose
Alessandro Michele was set to unveil his second womenswear collection for
the
brand after making a flying start in the role he unexpectedly found himself
in
at the start of the year.

The shaggy-haired Roman went from being an accessories designer known
only
to fashion insiders to one of the biggest jobs in the industry following the
abrupt departure of his long-standing predecessor Frida Giannini.
Famously, he only had five days to finish off Giannini’s final menswear
collection and barely a month to put his first womenswear show together for
the Winter Fall collections in February.

He pulled it off in triumphant fashion with a collection that bore
many of
the hallmarks of his own, eccentric personal style — best described as a
time
travel tapestry in which English civil war royalist meets California dropout
from the 1970s.
Gucci’s bosses had said they wanted a new direction to turn around the
brand’s flagging fortunes, and they got it. Now the world waits to see if
Michele can maintain the momentum with his new creations set to be unveiled
from 1300 GMT.

Also staging catwalk shows on Wednesday are top Italian brands Fay and
Alberta Ferretti, Germany’s Philipp Plein and the up-and-coming
Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean.
Among the most eagerly awaited shows later in the week will be Norwegian
designer Peter Dundas’s first since he left Emilio Pucci to return to
Roberto
Cavalli. The move followed a decision by the company’s eponymous founder
and owner
to sell out to Italian private equity group Clessidra after 45 years at its
helm.

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There are also new starts for Arthur Arbesser at Iceberg and Massimo
Giorgetti, who has been tipped to go for a total makeover of the Pucci brand
after replacing Dundas there.

The Milan shows conclude on Monday, with Giorgio Armani’s late morning
presentation set to delay the departure of the fashion circus for Paris.
Daizy Shely, known for her arresting and ultra-feminine designs, is this
season’s beneficiary of Armani’s support for young designers with the
Israeli
granted the use of the veteran’s theatre for an eagerly awaited show on
Saturday.

Booming sales

Italy’s textile and clothing exports, dominated by the high
value-added
fashion sector, hit a record high in July and the national fashion body
Camera
della Moda is anticipating growth of 5.5 percent in all sales in 2015.

For an industry that turned over 61.2 billion euros last year, that
translates to a lot of secured jobs and significant margins for new
investment.
“Italian fashion has benefited from a stronger dollar and a return of
confidence among European and American consumers,” said Gaetano Marzotto,
head
of the textile group Marzotto.
“It is true that in China, luxury products, watches and jewellery in
particular, have seen a fall in sales due to anti-corruption measures, but
the
accessible luxury that characterises the made-in-Italy trademark have held
up
well.”

Giuseppe Angiolini, honorary chairman of the Italian chamber of
fashion
buyers, says his compatriots appear to be falling in love with fashion
again.
“More than a recovery, I’d say it is an awakening,” he said. “Two years
ago
everyone was totally fed up with fashion. Now we are seeing customers’
desire
and interest is back.” (AFP)

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