By  on July 27, 2010

MILAN — Italy’s Chamber of Fashion is bulking up Milan Fashion Week with a seven-day calendar and runway shows to be held in 13th-century locations and stately buildings lodging Tiepolo frescoes.

“We are rebuilding our system, after 30 years of collaboration with the city’s fairgrounds,” said Mario Boselli, head of the association. The city of Milan is collaborating with the chamber and will open the doors to some of its historic edifices during the shows, which will run Sept. 22 to 28.

“Fashion accounts for 11 percent of Italy’s production and employs 1 million people,” said Milan’s mayor Letizia Moratti during a press conference at the city’s town hall Monday. “This is an industry we must support with strength and conviction and, through this new format, we combine fashion, art, creativity, design and food.” Several exhibitions, including one on Salvador Dalì, events and after-hour store openings are also planned.

Tod’s chairman Diego Della Valle said, “Milan is responding in the best possible way” to one of the most controversial fashion weeks ever, truncated to four days last February. “This is what Milan deserves, and something had to be done,” said Della Valle, pointing to the increased visibility a longer fashion week will allow young designers. “They are our future, we have to protect them. They will work with the country’s excellent web of artisans.”

Touting Milan’s “unique spaces,” its culture, food and lifestyle, Della Valle urged Italy’s fashion industry to “remain prominent. There is a new wave of consumers from Asia, and we must be ready for them,” he said.

Della Valle also mentioned the editor in chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour, who was blamed by the Italian media earlier this year for compressing the shows’ calendar here. “I saw Anna Wintour a couple of weeks ago, she’s been a friend for the past 30 years, and she is only too pleased that we are doing well for ourselves, and she wants to come back,” he said. He explained his presence at the press conference as being representative of other fashion brands. In February, the executive took a firm stand against a shorter fashion week, together with the likes of Giorgio Armani, Prada’s Patrizio Bertelli, Fendi’s chief executive officer Michael Burke, Roberto Cavalli and Krizia’s Mariuccia Mandelli.

Boselli said the new web of locations managed by the chamber will be centrally located, a few steps away from Milan’s cathedral and will include the Circolo Filologico, one of Milan’s most prestigious artistic and cultural institutions, where young designer Marco De Vincenzo will show on Sept. 26. Opposite is Palazzo Clerici, a 17th-century building that houses a Giovanni Battista Tiepolo fresco. Others are the 12th-century Loggia dei Mercanti, where brands such as Just Cavalli, Ermanno Scervino, Aquilano.Rimondi and Francesco Scognamiglio are slated to show, and, opposite, the Palazzo Giureconsulti, a 16th-century building that used to house the Milan Stock Exchange and the Chamber of Commerce and is now a convention center. These locations can fit up to 800 people, but two new venues will be added that will house up to 1,400 guests.

“Everything is walking distance, each building is a few minutes away from the other,” said Boselli.

Carpeted pathways will connect the locations, and shows will be streamed live outside. C’N’C’ Costume National will repeat its evening show and event in Piazza Duomo, where the cathedral is located, on Sept. 24.

Boselli said the chamber aims to keep the calendar fixed from season to season. Shows will no longer start at 9 a.m. but at 9:30 a.m., and will be held no later than 8 p.m., with a 90 minute lunchtime gap. “We want the calendar to be more relaxed,” he added.

At the moment, Gucci, Alberta Ferretti and Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s N.21 are scheduled on Sept. 22, followed by Sportmax, Fendi, Ermanno Scervino, D&G, Krizia, Luisa Beccaria and Prada the next day.Moschino, Antonio Marras, Etro, Blugirl, Gianfranco Ferré and Versace are set for Sept. 24, and Bottega Veneta, Emporio Armani, Max Mara, Blumarine, Jil Sander, Just Cavalli, Albino and Pucci on Sept. 25. Marni, Brioni, Dolce & Gabbana, which is back on the official calendar, as well as D&G, Missoni and Salvatore Ferragamo are slated for Sept. 26, with a Bulgari cocktail that evening to present a capsule collection of accessories by Matthew Williamsonat the Bulgari Hotel. Gucci and Versace are also expected to hold events the evenings of their shows, but details are not yet available. Dsquared, Roberto Cavalli, Iceberg, Giorgio Armani and Versus will show on Sept. 27.

An event to celebrate Burt Tansky, president and ceo of Neiman Marcus, is scheduled for Sept. 26.

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