By and  on September 4, 2007

The pace will be dizzying, rivaling last season’s giddy carousel of 122 shows and 138 presentations. Back-to-back shows, cocktail parties and the occasional star-studded designer bash will crowd Milan Fashion Week (Sept. 22 to 29), with most major shows crunched into the last few days. 

Reclusive Miuccia Prada no doubt will stir the crowd again, especially following last fall’s curious mix of heavy shapes in beefy wools treated with a futuristic hand. Look for clues in her invitation.

Donatella Versace continues to refine her glam-slam sensibility with great tailoring, sensual shapes and accessories, while King Giorgio is coming off a season where he grabbed headlines with provocative comments about the future of his powerhouse company. Armani told German newspaper Handelsblatt that he was open to an offer by L’Oréal to buy the firm, only to retract the statement when the international press went crazy with the story.

Succession is the issue now at the house of Ferré, which is wrangling with designer Gianfranco Ferré’s sudden death on June 17 of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 62. Names including the Viktor & Rolf duo and Alessandra Facchinetti have popped up as possible successors. But for spring, at least, the house will rely on its 35-member design team. Tonino Perna, IT Holding SpA chief, recently said, “[The] house must stay faithful to Ferré’s design aesthetics while moving forward.” 

At Gucci, a smaller change is afoot. Word has it that designer Frida Giannini has replaced her former stylist with Emmanuelle Alt from French Vogue. Elsewhere, for this round, Manuele Malenotti, Belstaff’s ceo, is trying to convince friend and frequent Armani front-row face George Clooney and actor Ewan McGregor to attend the spring show.

“Arte Italiana 1968-2007,” running until Nov. 11, is Milan’s answer to the Venice Biennale. Conceived by Vittorio Sgarbi, the city’s controversial art critic and cultural councilor, the exhibition is a reconstruction of an alternative Italian art movement based on originality over notoriety. On display at the Palazzo Reale are some 200 works divided into four sections and representing the last four decades of Italian avant-garde art with movements of Pop Art, poor art and “transavanguardia” paintings. Domenico Gnoli, Renato Guttuso, Valerio Adami, Gianfranco Ferroni, Adelchi Mantovani, Lorenzo Tornabuoni and Giancarlo Vitali are among the featured artists. Your ticket also gets you into the exhibition “Mario Cavaglieri,” featuring work by the 20th-century Italian painter who reproduced a social salon atmosphere with beautiful women and tactile landscapes.

From Sept. 24, Palazzo Reale also will host a retrospective of American photographer David LaChapelle, including an unedited series of works inspired by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel that LaChapelle did last year. Videos, musical clips and documentaries made for the likes of Elton John, Robbie Williams, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey also will be shown.
“Arte Italiana 1968-2007,” Palazzo Reale, 12 Piazza Duomo. Open Monday, 2:30 p.m–7:30 p.m; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday–Sunday, 9:30 a.m–7:30 p.m; Thursday, 9:30 a.m–10:30 p.m.

Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil may be a given for Italians, but foreigners seeking a healthy and tasty Italian souvenir must check out Chiù, a tiny store that bottles extra virgin olive oil from five different Italian regions—Lake Garda, Liguria, Tuscany, Puglia and Sicily. The customer selects the flavor’s intensity, which varies from region to region, and the golden liquid is bottled then and there. Chiù, which means “more” in the Neapolitan dialect, carries select Italian products, especially fresh mozzarella, pasta, pâtés and homemade sauces. For safe transportation back home, the oil is stored in a wooden box or can be shipped directly. Chiù Mozzarella e Olio, 5 Via Pontaccio; +39.0.2805.2296

Azzedine Alaïa’s Belt
Retail guru Carla Sozzani has no doubts when it comes to fall’s splurge: Azzedine Alaïa’s thick white leather belt that rings in at 800 euros, or about $1,095 at current exchange. It has a small copper buckle and complements any high-waisted bottom or dress. Known for his seductive and clinging clothes, Alaïa has fans that include Victoria Beckham, Madonna, Naomi Campbell and Charlotte Rampling, among others. Corso Como 10; +


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