Handbags at dawn as Milan designers clash over show times

Dolce & Gabbana infuriate rivals by switching dates to accommodate Jewish clients
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

The fur is flying on the catwalks of Milan ahead of this month's 2010 spring/summer women's shows, after Dolce and Gabbana announced they were changing the date of a key show to avoid clashing with the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur.

Instead, the style duo will send their latest designs down the runway on the same day – and in some cases at the same hour – as some of their biggest rivals. And the rivals, including leading names such as Krizia, Prada and Roberto Cavalli, are furious, with the latter blasting the duo's "arrogance".

Yom Kippur, the Jewish festival of atonement, falls on 28 September this year – the same date earmarked for the D&G diffusion line show. But for practising Jews, fasting, prayer and contemplative time spent in synagogues are more appropriate than the raucous glitz of Milan fashion week. In order to accommodate leading Jewish figures in the fashion industry, including the International Herald Tribune's influential fashion correspondent Suzy Menkes, Dolce and Gabbana have changed their schedule, according to Italian press reports.

Menkes's customary absence from shows that clash with Yom Kippur is well known, and designers have often kept their shows away from the date. But to make such a late change of plan is practically unheard of.

The founder of Krizia, Mariuccia Mandelli, said: "They want to show their D&G line on Thursday 24th at 4pm? Well, we're not going to move. They can't be so overbearing. Between industry colleagues there should be some respect. They should remember it was I who created Italian ready-to-wear."

She told La Repubblica newspaper she had already sent the invitations and it was too late to change her schedule.

Milan's queen of utilitarian chic, Miuccia Prada, was also said to be fuming at the news that the D&G show had been rescheduled to within hours of one of her own catwalk extravaganzas on 24 September.

Fellow designer Roberto Cavalli was equally miffed. "This war among designers is damaging the Italian industry at an economically very difficult time," he said. "We've tried to reach an amicable solution to this. It is what we want, because arrogance doesn't pay, and during a recession it causes serious damage.

"The catwalk shows are really important events for which the designers invest a great deal to get the best result from the show." We're asking them [Dolce and Gabbana] to reflect on their decision and rethink."

Calls to Dolce and Gabbana made yesterday were not returned. But the duo, whose designs are fêted by celebrities from rap stars to Hollywood A-listers, are no strangers to spats with other designers.

Earlier this year, the claws were out when the king of Milan's fashion scene, Giorgio Armani, let rip at his upstart rivals for "copying" one of his designs.

The veteran designer appeared to call his rivals "cretins" after a pair of quilted D&G trousers in the January menswear shows resembled a pair Armani had previously sent down the runway.

"For the moment they're copying from us. But perhaps they might also learn something," he hissed. D&G denied the charge and retorted they had "nothing to learn" from Armani. The couture legend Valentino also took a swipe at Dolce and Gabbana on the eve of his retirement two years ago, criticising their "arrogance".

Nonetheless, Saverio Moschillo, the president of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, said last-ditch attempts to reach an agreement between the duelling fashion divas were under way. "We have a meeting of the association next Thursday and we'll see what we can do," he said.

"Religion always has to be respected, but we have to find a solution that doesn't damage fashion."