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Italy: Quick-Change Artists

Italian show organizers are taking nothing for granted.

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MILAN — Although they expect market conditions to ease next year, Italian trade show organizers are taking nothing for granted and are making changes to consolidate their profiles, better serve exhibitors and entice potential footfall.

“We want to underline Pitti’s relevance on the trade show calendar and affirm its status as focal point for creativity and quality,” said Pitti Immagine chief executive officer Raffaello Napoleone, whose initiatives for next year include bringing in Spanish architect and industrial designer Patrizia Urquiola to update the layout of the Fortezza da Basso fairground in Florence.

“Change is necessary. The market demands it,” said Massimiliano Bizzi, ceo of M.Seventy, which operates the Milan-based White fairs.

To that end, expo organizers reported modifications to their fair formats, schedules and even names and locations.

After throwing the spotlight in recent seasons on a series of international designer labels such as Undercover, Thom Browne, Walter Van Beirendonck, Kris Van Assche and Martin Margiela, Pitti Uomo, which runs Jan. 12 to 15, is to stage a runway show for Italian sartorial brand Corneliani. Napoleone explained that the switch, which is the first time the men’s wear show has featured a tailoring label as its special guest, aimed to exemplify the virtue of Made in Italy contemporary wear, “constructed on creativity and quality.”

The fair also will host events for designers Umit Benan and Max Kibardin, who won last season’s inaugural Who’s on Next talent search, sponsored by Uomo Vogue and Roman couture association Alta Roma. Benan will present his fall men’s collection for the first time on an international stage, while footwear designer Kibardin, whose aesthetic has been likened to Manolo Blahnik, will showcase shoes and accessories in an installation. Meanwhile, Giles Deacon will headline the fifth edition of women’s pre-collection counterpart Pitti W_Woman, which runs concurrently.

Milan men’s ready-to-wear and accessories and women’s pre-collection expo White Homme, which follows Jan. 17 to 19 on Via Tortona, is also preparing to shake up its lineup, although Bizzi would not confirm who, saying only that the fair’s special guest likely would be “a very big name.”

M.Seventy also will launch White Kids twice a year in Milan, the first installment from Jan. 24 to 26, following children’s wear expo Pitti Bimbo in Florence, which runs Jan. 12 to 23.

Bizzi described the decision as “a natural move for White,” following extensions into other categories, and promised a selection of new and established brands offering exciting, modern and contemporary rtw and accessories for children from birth to age 12.

“We want to make [White Kids] the destination for children’s wear,” Bizzi said, adding that it made sense to host the fair in Milan “because it is the capital of international trade in Italy.”

Bizzi expressed optimism about 2010 despite “the very difficult conditions,” citing increases in the number of buyers at White fairs last season.

Meanwhile, women’s rtw fair Milanovendemoda has changed its name to MI Milan Prêt-à-Porter, cut its Plusize section devoted to large sizes and will show alongside men’s and women’s rtw and accessories expo N.O.W. at Milan’s Fieramilanocity from Feb. 26 to March 1.

Corrado Peraboni, ceo of Fiera Milano Expocts, which organizes MI Milano, explained that by joining forces with N.O.W., which M.Seventy operates, the two fairs aimed to have a bigger impact and better serve their target markets.

“Each [fair] will benefit from the other’s potential, but exhibitors and visitors will gain the most from this synergy,” Peraboni said.

Similarly, high-end jewelry expo AboutJ, which previously ran in Milan in February, now will take place in Venice from May 19 to 21, ahead of Vicenzaoro Charm, which runs May 22 to 26 in nearby Vicenza.

“We wanted to allow buyers and vendors to optimize their time in Italy in a city that is representative of luxury and excellence,” said Cristina Salvi of Vicenza Fiera, who is project manager of the event.

Elsewhere, a number of other fairs have altered their schedules.

Gold, gem and fine jewelry fair Vicenzaoro First will take place one week later than last year, from Jan. 16 to 21 at the Vicenza Fairgrounds; leather and accessories fairs Anteprima and Lineapelle have moved forward by one month to Feb. 2 and 3 at Fieramilanocity in Milan, and March 16 to18 in Bologna, respectively; textile fairs Milano Unica and Intertex have moved back by two weeks to Feb. 16 to 18 at Fieramilanocity and Feb. 17 to 19 in Corso Magenta, Milan, respectively; beauty fair Cosmoprof will take place two weeks later than last year from April 16 to 19 in Bologna; gold, silver and fine jewelry fair Oroarezzo has moved back three weeks to April 10 to 13 in Arezzo; footwear show ExpoRivaSchuh has pushed back the dates of the fall edition by one week to June 12 to 15, and Genoa-based denim fair Blue De Genes has rescheduled to September from June.

Also, fur and leather fair Mifur and eyewear expo Mido have shortened their schedules by one day and will run concurrently with leather and accessories show Mipel at Fieramilanocity from March 3 to 6. Footwear fair Micam overlaps at the same location from March 2 to 5.

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