MILAN — Believe it or not, the same designers who battle bitterly over a show calendar have managed to stick together for a decade to support Convivio, an AIDS fund-raiser held here every two years. More than 140 brands, including 50 fashion houses like Versace, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Gucci, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Missoni, Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana, supported the five-day Convivio extravaganza June 6-10. It kicked off with a flea market, a dinner and a disco party for 3,000.

This story first appeared in the June 14, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

More than 60,000 people, hungry for designer items at half the retail price, flocked to the market where some 800 volunteers acted like traffic cops to maintain order and the flow of the crowd as well as avoid congestion at the cashiers.

Prada sold 1,660 items — including bowling bags, sunglasses and nylon wallets — for a total of $88,000. Gucci, meanwhile, sold 500 bags, including the Jackie style. On opening night, Donatella Versace worked at her stand in a black pantsuit with fluorescent green piping. Pastel-colored shades, Versace sport apparel and jeans were snapped up, bringing in $192,000.

Armani sold all 5,000 pieces that it brought, including apparel, accessories, fragrance, linens and home goods. Bestsellers were canvas and leather totes made exclusively for Armani by prisoners at the San Vittore Prison.

For the first time, furniture, interior design, home goods and technology firms also lent their support.

“The goal is to beat the $1.8 million mark of the last edition,” said Versace, who showed up with her children, Allegra and Daniel, on opening night. Her late brother Gianni initiated the event. “With this project, Gianni pushed the designers to work together — not an easy task — and if he were here, he would say thank-you to everyone.”

With a total of about $2.3 million raised, it was mission accomplished.

Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Italian Vogue and Convivio’s chief organizer, said: “When Gianni first called me with this idea, I thought he was crazy. Now, after 10 years, I can say it was a fantastic idea and it shows that fashion can be extremely supportive of serious problems.”

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