By  on May 24, 2006

MILAN — After 30 years at Milan's fairgrounds, come Sept. 23, the city's runway shows will be held at the recently renovated Fiera Milano Congressi, now dubbed Fashion Milano Congressi.

The shows will be held at the FMC until at least 2010, when the fashion area Città della Moda near Corso Como is expected to be completed.

"This is a flexible structure, suitable for anything from concerts and gala dinners to conferences," said Mario Boselli, head of the chamber, at a presentation of the center. Representatives of major fashion houses also had a chance to view the spaces for the first time.

The Milan shows will run from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1 and Boselli reiterated the importance of an extended calendar for "added visibility."

The FMC, which is located on Via Gattamelata 5, close to the fairgrounds that are being dismantled, was designed in 2002 by architect Pierluigi Nicolin. The FMC recently was renovated and doubled in size, making it the largest congress center in Italy, accommodating up to 25,000 people. The fashion crowd already has caught a glimpse of the FMC since Blumarine has held its show in one of its spaces, the Sala Montenapoleone 2, for the past few seasons.

The Sala Montenapoleone 2 is the largest room at the FMC, seating 1,148 people. There is also a Sala Montenapoleone 1, which seats 814 people. In addition to 17 conference rooms and an auditorium, there are the Sala Manzoni, Borgospesso and Spiga, seating 305, 460 and 620 people, respectively. There will be three or four tents in spaces surrounding the center, including a velodrome, that will be able to accommodate more than 4,500 people.

"The FMC will give us a competitive edge," said Boselli.

He said the chamber is considering holding shows every 45 minutes and introducing a 30-minute lunch break. Also, while the shows at the fairgrounds were held in the mornings and early afternoons, Boselli said he was thinking of introducing evening slots, as well.

Fashion veteran Beppe Modenese said he requested designers to mark the opening of the FMC by holding their shows there. "It's time designers work together for the fashion system and the city. And this is important for all the buyers that come to Milan from around the world," said Modenese, referring to the difficulties of traveling around the city to reach different locations. Modenese conceded that those designers, such as Giorgio Armani and Gianfranco Ferré, who have built their own headquarters and show venues, are not likely to move to the FMC, but said he was hoping they would consider it for their "second lines.""In February, we had 45 brands showing at the fairgrounds out of a total of about 90," said Boselli. "At the FMC, we hope to have at least two-thirds of the houses showing here."

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