STANDING FIRM: Italian designers will have to figure out how to compete with the Oscars, because the Italian Chamber of Fashion said there is no way Milan Fashion Week can be moved. Reached by phone Thursday, Mario Boselli, president of the Italian designers’ association, said the chamber had unanimously voted against shifting the Milan dates even though the Oscars, scheduled for Feb. 29, will fall smack in the middle of the Milan shows, which will run from Feb. 22-March 1. “We will not change the dates, but we will help any designer move his or her show to earlier in the week, if said designer wishes to go to Los Angeles and attend the Oscars,” said Boselli. As reported, Boselli said this week that the Milan show dates were decided two years ago and that they are part of a complex web of other trade events in the city.

Most Italian fashion houses downplayed the conflict with the Oscars, noting that the media covering the Academy Awards and the runway shows are different and separate, and they gave kudos to Boselli and the chamber for keeping firm. A spokesman for Donatella Versace — even though the designer last week said the Oscars would directly conflict with her house’s planned show next February — said Thursday that the house is confident it can both show its collection and dress stars for the Hollywood red carpet.“I think this is the right decision and I don’t think the shows will lose coverage given the fact that Italian papers have correspondents based in Los Angeles and that the fashion and entertainment press are separate,” said Robert Triefus, Giorgio Armani’s executive vice president for worldwide communication. Triefus said the company had not decided what days to show its fall collections, but acknowledged Armani was “very happy to be earlier in the week.” A spokeswoman for Missoni, who earlier this week expressed concerns about splitting the company’s small team of seamstresses between Milan and Los Angeles, said the company is now “evaluating different options,” but did not elaborate.

A spokesman for Roberto Cavalli, who was flying to New York at press time, said he was not concerned about the shows’ coverage. The spokesman, however, said Cavalli, who has dressed Halle Berry and Jo Champa at past Oscars, will not be able to attend next year’s event. “Even if we do bring forward the show, there is so much going on that week that Cavalli wouldn’t be able to leave Milan right after his show,” said the spokesman. The spokesman also said that preparations for the Oscars are made way in advance and that clothes are sent to the U.S. way before the awards. “We are helped by the fact that we have offices in the U.S. that can smooth out details,” he said. Armando Branchini, vice president of InterCorporate, an analyst here who works with many of Italy’s luxury goods players,praised the chamber’s decision. “We didn’t move the show dates for Yom Kippur, why should we do it for an event that is so far from fashion? These are two very different worlds…the risk is turning everything into mere entertainment,” said Branchini.

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