By  on September 20, 2007

Milan is doing a big squeeze this season, and not just for those skinny jeans.

Fashion week kicks off Saturday and promises to be more compact than ever, with 233 collections — 96 shows for 90 brands, 95 presentations and 53 lines showing by appointment only — officially scheduled through Sept. 29.

Most major houses, however, are concentrated between Giorgio Armani on Monday and Versace next Thursday evening. With Versace moving up a day from its usual position on Friday, a number of companies decided to show off the official calendar or to squeeze in before that show. At a news conference on Tuesday, Mario Boselli, head of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, attributed the amount of off-calendar shows to the four-day crunch.

Besides Anna Molinari, Marni, Dolce & Gabbana and D&G, others including Jil Sander and Luisa Beccaria followed suit. Sander, for instance, is now showing twice on Tuesday, at 9 and 10 a.m.

"I had no choice," said Beccaria, "I knew the press were trying to leave on Friday." She will now show Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Echoing other designers, she urged the Italian Chamber of Fashion to regroup the more industrial or less international brands on the first and last days of the week, allowing fashion houses that have a stronger relationship with the foreign press to find adequate space on the central days.

"Unfortunately, many of these industrialists are members of the Chamber's board and have the power to occupy the calendar as they wish," said Beccaria. "It's not a question of size — there are bigger brands than mine that don't have an international business."

In a nod to culture and entertainment, the calendar is enriched with a roster of exhibitions and store openings. On Monday, an evening party at Palazzo Reale will mark the opening of three exhibitions: Vivienne Westwood — 35 Years of Fashion, curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum; 330 works by David LaChapelle, comprising a retrospective and a never-before-seen cycle of photos inspired by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, and a group of 140 photos by Gian Paolo Barbieri.

That evening, The New York Times T style magazine and the International Herald Tribune will host an event to preview T's online version, which will premiere on Dec. 2.Boutique openings include the renovated Moschino and Blumarine stores. A number of firsts are on tap, too, including Martin Margiela's inaugural shop in Italy, Dsquared's worldwide flagship, the first Romeo Gigli cafe, and footwear brand Renè Caovilla's runway debut.

"I'm happy, happy, happy that this is the last edition of fashion week running Saturday to Saturday," said Boselli. Starting in 2009, Milan Fashion Week will run from Wednesday to Wednesday. "We'll finally have a strong weekend in Milan."

Over the next three years, show dates are slated as follows: in 2008, Feb. 18-25 and Sept. 22-29; in 2009, Feb. 25-March 4 and Sept. 23-30, and in 2010, Feb. 24-March 3 and Sept. 22-29.

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