By  on February 15, 2007

There's nothing unclear about the city of Milan's message: Officials want their town to host the 2015 Universal Expo — a giant world's fair — and are banking on the powerful added asset of the fashion industry as a big drawing card.

"We simply cannot miss this chance," said Massimo Sordi, vice president of Milan's Chamber of Commerce, during a news conference held Wednesday along with the Italian Chamber of Fashion to present the Feb. 17-24 calendar.

"Fashion must remain in Milan and Milan must remain Italy's capital of fashion, despite ephemeral projects presented by other cities [Rome and Florence]," said city councillor Tiziana Maiolo.

For the first time, Mario Boselli, head of the Chamber of Fashion, publicly addressed the issue of a number of fashion houses, like Miu Miu and Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, opting to show elsewhere.

"Milan is increasingly shaping up as the runway for designers' signature lines," said Boselli, referring to Paris as an equivalent. "There are no [Parisian] second or young lines showing there."

Angrily displaying headlines from several articles in the Italian dailies attesting that fashion brands are fleeing Milan, Boselli said, "[Prada chief executive officer] Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada did well to show Miu Miu in Paris. As an entrepreneur, I would have done it, too. Obviously, Miu Miu would always be considered Prada's younger sister by showing in the same city, and the same can be said for Philosophy."

Boselli said other reasons to show outside Milan include the product, as in the case of Diesel and Miss Sixty, which "fits better" with the "mood" of a city like New York, or a concurrent event, such as a boutique opening in a different city, like Emporio Armani showing in London last season.

"In such a global business, each city must find its own identity. The main designer lines remain the excellence of Milan, a place where fashion houses choose to hold two shows, which does not happen anywhere else," said Boselli. "This is a nuisance for us, frankly, because in the end, the double shows add up to one less available day on the calendar, but we are honored at the same time because these are all main fashion brands." Boselli cited Fendi and Versace as firms that have chosen to hold two shows this season, just as they are "growing and expanding."

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