By  on March 22, 2011

MILAN — The creativity was high and the mood was improved at Mifur.

The four-day fair that ended here March 9 reaped positive results. Attendance was up 8.6 percent to 15,515 visitors, marked by a 12 percent increase in international attendance, with particular spikes coming from the U.S. and Eastern Europe with 25.6 percent and 22.3 percent gains, respectively, from the same time last year. Asia also showed encouraging upturns, as attendance from Japan (prior to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami) grew 45.9 percent and Hong Kong showed a 45.4 percent upswing.

Opening night on March 6 kicked off with a runway show displaying a dozen new styles from 13 prominent Mifur exhibitors, including Oscar de la Renta, Tsoukas Bros and Ciolini. The fall-winter 2011-12 previews consisted of fur jackets and vests, followed by an all-accessories grand finale of hats, purses, legwarmers and scarves.

“For the collections, every designer is using new innovations, which make the final pieces diverse, light, and practical,” said Mifur president and founder Norberto Albertalli. “The designers used many solid techniques and have a good sense of the product and manufacturing process so that there are many striking pieces from each collection, and in this aspect, there’s a feeling of confidence.”

Innovations and new entries were discernible from many of the more than 200 exhibitors, a mix of established labels and up-and-coming talents.

“Mifur is the biggest fur show so obviously it’s a great opportunity if you want to show your collection outside of the fashion shows,” said Mariana Thompson, sales agent from the Milan Oscar de la Renta showroom, Sari Spazio.

De la Renta showed about 70 pieces split into two lines. The Signature Collection consisted of classic, solid pieces that Thompson said, “sold well in the American market during the recession,” while the Fashion Collection had more exclusive pieces such as a natural Barguzin sable vest with suede trim from Russia, a pelt once reserved exclusively for Russian czars. The long, swing-back, silk-belt vest retails for $98,000 and highlights the motion trend of fall-winter 2011-12, where experimental cuts in fur create new movements.

Meticulous embroidery and bold colors were seen throughout many of the other collections — monochromatic swaths of red and green fur at Mala Mati and sparkling jewels mixed with stark, black mink and white raccoon at Avanti.

Additional experimentation with fur as a malleable material was seen in the pleated mini dresses at Braschi, the dramatic mixes of waffle cashmere blends with fur at Igor Gulyaev Fur Collection, the tasseled fur jackets at Vinicio Pajaro and the shaggy coats at Mazzi Overwear.

Cristiano Burani Furs chose Mifur to inaugurate its first collection of 50 styles, not including accessories. The line was licensed to Albertalli, a firm of fourth-generation furriers. Giovanni Albertalli of Albertalli, who is responsible for the Burani line, noted that buyers had been coming from Russia, Asia and Northern Europe. For its first collection, a new lining technology with duck feathers was introduced. The down was sandwiched between a silk lining on the underside of the fur jacket, which created a supersoft effect. From sporty to sophisticated, an exclusive licensing agreement with Swarovski allowed Burani to incorporate crystals, the most stunning example being a dark Russian sable vest with Swarovski-encrusted capped shoulders.

Jun-Manoel Cova relied on investments in technology and research. Using lasers and digital stamping, Persian lamb was mixed with etched leather in fine, abstract designs. Armando Esposito, the founder of the 40-year-old, family-run business said, “Of our buyers, 60 percent come from Russia, and some from Korea. I’d say that there are many more Asian buyers than I’ve seen in the past few years. Naturally, I’ve seen more Russians in respect to last year, but I’ve seen even more Italians than last year.”

In collaboration with the International Fur Trade Federation, Mifur’s special initiative with young designers was central to the fair. Its Remix International Competition drew 34 young finalists from 17 countries in a contest that judged the functionality and sustainability of fur design. Hong Kong designer Sarah Lan Woon Hei won the gold this year.

Albertalli said, “Mifur has been invested in youth for the past decade, from the emerging market come new designers. And fashion is made by the people who follow trends, and the trends are always followed by the youth — most importantly the youth.”

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