By and
with contributions from Alessandra Turra
 on December 12, 2008

MILAN — And they say women can’t make up their minds.

Men’s fashion week here is to revert back to four days in January, after Fendi became the latest high-profile brand to cancel its catwalk and France’s chamber of fashion allegedly reneged on a calendar agreement with its Italian counterpart.

A Fendi spokeswoman told WWD late Thursday that the Italian luxury house would forgo its runway show, slated for Jan. 21, the last day of the men’s shows. Instead, Sylvia Fendi will present the label’s men’s line by private appointment in Rome during the last week of January. Fendi joins Marni and Valentino on a growing list of labels to drop out this season as the economic crisis deepens.

Meanwhile, tempers flared here this week when Italy’s Camera della Moda learned that Yves Saint Laurent would maintain its traditional off-calendar event Jan. 21 — with Camera boss Mario Boselli even labeling the Chambre Syndicale “dirty players,” according to news reports.

Camera della Moda general manager Giulia Pirovano softened that reproach Thursday, telling WWD the Chambre Syndicale had gone “a bit outside” an agreement made in October that Milan would extend fashion week by one day to five (meaning buyers who traditionally skipped off to Paris early Wednesday would have to postpone their flights if they wanted to catch Prada as well as Fendi.)

However, due to the number of cancellations, Pirovano said Milan would revert to four days — but just this once. She added the two organizing bodies had reached a new agreement Thursday, which, come the next round of men’s fashion shows, results in a five-day fashion week in Milan (Saturday to Wednesday) with the proviso that no Paris fashion show or off-calendar event would be allowed to show on Wednesday.

“If they want to extend their calendar we would be pleased for them, but they’ll have to extend it at the end of Paris’ men’s fashion week — not at the beginning,” Pirovano said.

Prada will now show on Sunday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m., which a spokesman said was the company’s traditional slot.

The Chambre declined to comment, while Yves Saint Laurent did not return a call.

Milan isn’t the only city changing men’s show dates. ENK International has changed the dates of The Collective and Blue men’s trade shows in New York to Sunday, Jan. 18 to Tuesday, Jan. 20. The shows were previously slated to run Jan. 19 to 21.

Vendors and retailers agitated for the change, according to Elyse Kroll, chairman and chief creative officer of ENK. “It was loud enough that we needed to listen. We realized that we needed to be open that Sunday when the preponderance of retailers would be here shopping,” she explained.

The Collective and Blue have historically opened on a Sunday, but ENK had pushed back the date this season due to the unusually late start of the Pitti Uomo trade show in Florence, which is running Jan. 13 to 16. That gives vendors showing there only 36 hours to pack up, fly to New York and set up.

ENK’s new dates mean its two shows will run concurrently with Project New York, the other major men’s show. However, the trade shows are directly conflicting this season with the men’s fall ’09 runway presentations in Milan.

“It’s frustrating as a fashion director because you want to see everything,” noted Kevin Harter, vice president of fashion direction for men’s, home and young world at Bloomingdale’s. “But we have a great team here, and we divide and conquer.”

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