Milan fashion show to launch with tightened schedule

After New York and London, Milan picks up the thread of the international fashion circuit Wednesday with a tighter schedule for the main shows to meet the needs of buyers and journalists.

Several thousand buyers from around 40 countries are expected in Milan as well as 2,000 journalists. Many of them will then move on to the Paris shows, which stretches over nine days, from March 2 to 10.

The tighter-than-usual event comes after fashion maven Anna Wintour, editor of the American Vogue magazine, put Italian noses out of joint this month when it emerged that she could only spare three days for Milan, rather than the full week.

"No one, even if she is called Anna Wintour, can allow themselves to make or unmake our fashion calendar," Letizia Moratti, the mayor of Milan, told Italian reporters, calling for a united front against such pressure.

Wintour, who served as the inspiration for the book and subsequent film "The Devil Wears Prada" which features the fearsome head of a fashion magazine, is regarded by many as the most influential person in the industry.

Mario Boselli, president of the Italian National Fashion Chamber (CNMI), also said that designers should keep in mind their own strength and not give in to pressure from the "foreign press".

But the main fashion shows have nevertheless been reorganised over four days.

This year, young Italian stylists will open the Milan fashion week with a show bringing together several newcomers who won their place on the catwalk in a competition.

Young designers who have broken through in recent years will also feature.

Thursday will include shows by Dolce&Gabbana, Fendi and Prada, while the highlight of Friday's shows will be from Gianfranco Ferre, Versace and Jil Sander.

Bottega Veneta, Max Mara, Armani and Gucci will follow Saturday, with Marni, Roberto Cavalli and Missoni giving their shows on Sunday.

While there will be other shows on Monday, none of the big names will take part.

The Milan show will feature some 200 collections from Italian and foreign designers, featuring ready-to-wear women's clothing for the autumn season.

While many designers will stage the traditional catwalk shows, others have chosen to present their collections in showrooms or by appointment.

In this rather more economic proposition, the clothes and accessories are presented much as they would be in a shop.

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