By  on February 9, 2005

MILAN — Should tea and scones start being served in between shows during Milan Fashion Week?

A handful of British designers, following the example of Burberry, are giving up London to present their fall collections in Milan, from Pringle of Scotland to Daks, Gregory Parkinson to Basso & Brooke and Sinha-Stanic (although the last two houses also are showing in London).

At the same time during fashion week, which runs Feb. 19-26, British designers will be feted at the Triennale, with designs from houses such as Clements Ribeiro, Frostfrench, Julien Macdonald, Aquascutum, Mary Quant, Vivienne Westwood and Zandra Rhodes.

On the Italian front, Bottega Veneta will hold a runway show for the first time, on Feb. 21. “I feel it is time for a show this season in order to be able to see the silhouettes — but in a way that still makes sense with the Bottega Veneta brand,” said Tomas Maier, the company’s creative director. “That’s why it will be a very intimate atelier type setting — 300 people of two rows.”

The week also points to another fashion trend: showing outside of the official calendar in an effort to secure the time deemed most convenient for the house, thus overlapping with other designers going along with the chamber of fashion. Bottega Veneta, together with Roberto Menichetti (who is showing his women’s collection in Milan for the first time), Jil Sander and Moschino, are some of the fashion houses that are showing at the same time as other maisons. “Our design team really wanted to show during the day,” said a Jil Sander spokeswoman. “As there were no daytime slots available, we had to pull out of the calendar.”

Jil Sander will likely hold two small shows on Feb. 23 around 9 a.m. “We wanted a more private setting,” said the spokeswoman.

Other new Italian entries this season include Belstaff, which also will show on Feb. 21. The week officially kicks off that day with shows such as Blugirl, Anna Molinari’s younger line; Just Cavalli; Emporio Armani; Pollini by Rifat Ozbek; Prada; Bottega Veneta, and Borbonese. Menichetti showed his men’s collection in Milan last month and introduced his namesake collection for women in New York last fall. Referring to Menichetti’s decision to show in Milan, a spokesman said: “It was simply a matter of timing and organizational problems, as the shows were moved up a week.” The spokesman noted the designer wanted to secure a spot early in the week, as he will need to go to Paris for the Celine show (which he also designs) on March 4.While celebrities appear to be scarce, since the Academy Awards ceremony will be held once again at the end of Milan Fashion Week, on Feb. 27, there still will be some star wattage with Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck rumored to be attending the Belstaff show. DiCaprio donned Belstaff jackets in his recently released Martin Scorsese movie, “The Aviator.” Belstaff will throw a party after its show to mark the company’s 80th anniversary.

The runway shows wrap up on Feb. 26 with Dolce & Gabbana; Salvatore Ferragamo, which will hold a runway show once again with Graeme Black back with the design team; Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti, and DSquared2.

“Milan is consolidating its role as a commercial location, where it is a must to show and be seen by buyers and press from around the world,” said Stefania Saviolo, co-director of the Master in Fashion, Experience & Design Management program at Milan’s Bocconi University. “This is not the moment to pursue art for the sake of art; there is a need to sell and do business.” 

While a regular during the men’s shows in Milan, Pringle, which is celebrating its 190th anniversary this year, will hold its women’s show in Milan for the first time on Feb. 23. Stuart Stockdale, head of design at Pringle, said that, as the company expands its business internationally, Milan is a “better platform.”

Stockdale said it is “difficult to attract main buyers and editors to London now.” As Pringle has a “healthy business in Italy,” Stockdale said it made more sense to show in Milan rather than Paris or New York.

Daks is scheduled for the slot just before Pringle, at 7 p.m. It plans to show its new upscale, tailored collection designed by Tiziano Mazzilli and Louise Michielsens, founders and designers of the Voyage line. “The show in Milan presents a fantastic platform upon which to reveal the result of combining unique designers with a strong British brand,” said Bruno Massa, the new managing director of Daks, which already has well-established women’s and men’s wear lines.

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