By and  on September 23, 2009

MILAN — Keep the vitamins handy.


The Milan Fashion Week calendar is shorter and more intense than ever, with the major houses squeezed into four days — from Thursday to Sunday — because of Yom Kippur, and no letup in the accompanying social events. In addition to the shows, the fetes span from the opening of Prada’s new concept store to Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce appearing at La Rinascente and Stefanel feting its 50th anniversary.

But there clearly are concerns. Most fashion houses decline to talk about a business outlook for spring 2010 because of the ongoing global recession. The weak dollar against the euro is likely to cause U.S. retailers to take an even tougher line on prices for spring 2010 than they did for this fall. And buyers and the fashion press will be counting every lire in hotels and restaurants as they deal with their own budget cuts. Managers at most of the five-star hotels — including the Four Seasons, the Hotel Bulgari, the Principe di Savoia and the Hotel Baglioni — claim to be fully booked but concurred many clients waited until the last minute to confirm their reservations.

It’s still early to tell whether it will be a high wattage or lackluster celebrity season since the only ones confirmed so far are Mary J Blige at Gucci and Rachel Bilson at Ferragamo.

There are a few shows today and the festivities kick off tonight with the inauguration of Louis Vuitton’s “Ecritures Silencieuses” exhibition at Palazzo Dugnani, marking the first time the brand has displayed one of its shows outside of Paris’ Espace Culturel. The crux of the show, which runs through Oct. 31, are three inscribed Rongo Rongo tablets from the Polynesian island of Rapa Nui that will be displayed alongside the works of artists such as Barbara Kruger, Giuseppe Penone and Tracey Emin.

On the heels of its show on Thursday, Prada will reopen its Corso Venezia store to unveil a revamped look. The 6,480-square-foot unit is Prada’s first dedicated to a made-to-order service via which customers can personalize their favorite style. For example, there are five jeans styles that can be developed in 14 fabrics and 22 washes and stitched with any color thread the consumer wishes.

The choice for quilted down jackets is between nylon, silk satin and duchesse and wool gabardine in a selection of 100 colors. Ditto on the accessories front, where customers can walk away with a pair of crocodile boots bearing their initials and in a skin they selected from 10 different colorways. Even basic white T-shirts can be personalized with one’s initials. The price range for denim spans from $281 to $1,139.

The store’s decor breaks away from the house’s traditional sage green look to highlight contrasting elements such as butter-colored marble, ebony, pumpkin orange panels, micro perforated steel walls, glass and wooden or etched leather curtains.

The launch of a Prada book, initially scheduled for show week, instead was put off to a later day.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Stefanel teamed up with knitwear designers Annalisa Dunn and Dorothee Hagemann of Cooperative Designs. The British duo designed Stefanel 50, a capsule collection of 10 revisited iconic pieces, which will be on display at Galleria Cardi on Thursday.

“We wanted to mark this milestone with a special collection that represents the best of our heritage and encapsulates our vision for the future,” said Gruppo Stefanel chairman Giuseppe Stefanel.

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