Hardly. Snarled traffic, heavy-handed security, a jammed schedule and a dearth of runway fireworks — Dolce & Gabbana's disco farm-fest notwithstanding — have put members of the fashion pack in a foul mood about Milan.
A shortened calendar, with six days' worth of shows packed into five, has caused headaches and angst for buyers and editors alike.
"It's horrible to make industry professionals choose what show to go to when they're half-an-hour apart," said Michael Fink, fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. "Shows need to be centralized and there has to be some consideration of travel time."
Fink said he missed the Anna Molinari show Wednesday night because it was scheduled only 30 minutes before Burberry across town. And like many buyers, Fink opted to stand at the Moschino show Tuesday in order to dash to Giorgio Armani directly after.
Fashion-wise, too, Fink said Milan has been lacking versus an "amazing" fall-winter season last March. "The reason we are here is we're looking for a new slant," he said. "What's here has been very pretty, but there just hasn't been too much of a new take on anything. Prada is the exception."
Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of The International Herald Tribune, said Milan is "too important to be compressed this way. The people I feel really sorry for are the ones that do presentations. I haven't had the time to see a single one."
Menkes suggested major shows be staggered at key times, such as 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., "and build around that."
"Everybody's fed up with the calendar, every year in every city," said an exasperated Hal Rubenstein, fashion director at In Style. "This is the job, I'm sorry."
Rubenstein said people always say they want to discover new talent, but not be in Europe for weeks on end. "You can't have it both ways," he said.
As for the collections, he doesn't consider it a stellar Milan season, but he said all cities have cycles. "You can't tell creative people how to be creative.""Chaotic," was how Hilary Alexander, fashion editor of London's Daily Telegraph, described the Milan week. "Designers have to demonstrate a more united front instead of focusing only on their own show," she said. "This isolationist policy, it doesn't work for the good of the industry. I had to miss a lot of shows."
Alexander suggested more designers should show at the Fiera, which also hosts fashion trade shows. "It's perfect. It's got everything," she said. "Once the lights go down, who knows if you're in some converted airplane hangar?"
"It didn't help to squeeze [the calendar] and it doesn't work better," said Stefano Tonchi, editor of T magazine. "You don't [make] those rules without considering the life of the city. It's not fair. There was no time to meet with the designers."
Julie Gilhart, vice president and fashion director at Barneys New York, said the compressed week has made scheduling difficult. And for buyers, some shows overlapped, such as Jil Sander and Bottega Veneta on Wednesday. "You have to choose," she said. "You can't go to as many things."
Still, while acknowledging the hectic nature of the week, Gilhart said: "On the other hand, I don't think Milan needs to be over a longer period."
Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, among those in favor of a more condensed schedule, said the Milan week "has been great. Nothing seems slow or drawn out."
She allowed there was still "an awful lot of zigzagging," referring to the helter-skelter locations. But overall, she said it's been an impactful Italian season with strong collections from the likes of Prada and Fendi, among others.
Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Italian Vogue, said she saw room for improvement.
"The calendar should be redone in a more rational way, with the second lines showing in the first days, then the fashion or manufacturing groups, then the fashion designers, who should be grouped in five days," she said.Alexandra Shulman, editor in chief of British Vogue, said she's found the Italian collections more interesting and relevant than the recent New York shows. Still, she said clothes often get short shrift next to the leather goods.
"More and more, the shows we look at are more obviously to sell accessories than sell fashion and I think people find that slightly depressing," she said.
Cathy Horyn, fashion critic at The New York Times, said she thinks Milan needs "more than one newsmaker," referring to Miuccia Prada. But she views Milan as being in a transition phase and she's optimistic about Gucci's Frida Giannini and Jil Sander's Raf Simons. "It's not the Tom Ford era anymore and it shouldn't be," she said, adding the "old guard" needs to shed its overly protective tendencies to make way for new talent, while manufacturing giants should flex their financial muscles to lure top names to Milan. "Why doesn't [Alexander] McQueen show here? He does with men's."
Camera della Moda Italiana president Mario Boselli reiterated the chamber's stance that it pushed for a longer show week, but that designers, afraid to miss big editors, chose to concentrate their shows into four days. He said the chaos is no surprise to him. "After this bad experience with the calendar, maybe the designers will be less likely to listen to Signora Wintour."
"Thirty minutes between shows is crazy," said Virgine Mouzat, fashion editor of Le Figaro. "They're killing the journalists and one designer, because you have to make a choice. And there's something [organizers] forgot — the showrooms."
Besides that, Mouzat described the atmosphere in Milan as more tense and aggressive than usual vis-à-vis traffic and security.
As for the fashions, "I see the urge to be commercial. But that doesn't mean you can't have any imagination," Mouzat said, pointing to the "brilliant" Prada, "excellent" Marni and "delicious" Burberry shows.
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