MILAN — The specter of a four-day Milan Fashion Week, which exhausted many in the industry last September, was wiped away last week when the Italian Chamber of Fashion put out its first draft of the schedule for the shows, which are slated to run Feb. 16 to 23.

Giorgio Armani’s decision weeks ago to schedule his Emporio show on Sunday, Feb. 17, spurred other houses to show that day. Jil Sander and Missoni are now also set for Sunday, with two shows each. Since less international brands are set to show Feb. 16 and the following Saturday, Mario Boselli, head of the Chamber, said he was pleased with the calendar. “We have so many companies that want to show on those days that we can barely accommodate them,” he said.

Giorgio Armani, Just Cavalli, Pringle, Burberry, Alberta Ferretti and Gianfranco Ferré are slated for Feb. 18, with Armani and Ferré holding two shows each. Prada, also with two shows, Bottega Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo, 6267, Blumarine, Marni and Etro are scheduled for Feb. 19.

Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, with two shows, and Krizia will show on Feb. 20, followed the next day by DSquared2, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Luisa Beccaria, MaxMara and Versace. Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and Versace will each hold two shows.

The full week will surely please most retailers and editors, as the four-day crunch in September created havoc and traffic congestion around the city. Retailers were especially frustrated because the truncated week did not allow them to make showroom appointments between shows. The fashion pack was divided, with Stefano Tonchi, editor of The New York Times’ T magazine telling WWD it was “quite a horrible experience,” and “suicide for Italian fashion.” Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, called the schedule with off-calendar, early starts and late shows “catastrophic.” Conversely, Anna Wintour, editor in chief of American Vogue, said it was “fabulous,” and saw the four-day week as cost-saving. At the end of the shows, Wintour even sent a thank-you letter to the Italian Chamber of Fashion and its designers.

Roberto Cavalli said Thursday that “compacting” the calendar helps “streamline the work of the professionals in this industry,” from the press to the retailers and the designers themselves.

This story first appeared in the January 22, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The production of the calendar is an ongoing issue with fashion houses, as the general consensus is that it is put out too late. “The cost implications for international companies are huge,” said a press person at a designer house. “Anyone knows what a difference it makes to book an airline ticket two weeks before compared to two months in advance.”

Another sticky point is the fact that fashion houses put in their requests for a slot without knowing what brands will be positioned before or after their show. “We may see that a big show is slated just before our own, and this causes huge model and hair and makeup issues,” said another industry veteran, who spoke on conditions of anonymity. “This forces us to enter a bidding war with the designers before or after us.”

Designer Luisa Beccaria concurred. “We have no feedback as the calendar is being drawn out, strong brands position themselves where they want, and the Chamber first supports those companies that rent out spaces at the fairgrounds,” she said. These are usually powerful Italian clothing manufacturers that have the right to show in the morning and central slots of the day booked at the Fiera. “It’s not an issue of length, but how the week is handled,” said Beccaria. “We are called up and told what slot is available and if it doesn’t suit us, we have to show outside the calendar and even overlap with other designers, which harms the whole system.”

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