Italy’s top designers have been at each other’s throats for years; now, they can’t get enough of each other. The cocktail party thrown Monday night by Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera to boost the city’s image as a fashion center was the latest designer love-fest.

In and around the grounds of the Villa Reale, where several newly restored rooms were just reopened to the public, were Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferre, Valentino, Genny’s Donatella Girombelli and shoe designer Diego della Valle, Nicola Trussardi, Krizia’s Mariuccia Mandelli and Aldo Pinto, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Rosita and Tai Missoni and a thousand or so others.

The once-reclusive Armani, who’s noticeably raising his profile these days, had embraces for colleagues from Val to both D and G. But he didn’t get to hug Gianni Versace, who let brother Santo stand in for him.

The designers aren’t the only ones getting along unusually well these days. The following night, some of North America’s biggest retailers got together at an intimate cocktail party in Armani’s Via Borgonuovo apartment to wish the designer a happy 60th birthday.

Neiman’s Burt Tansky, Holt-Renfrew’s Joel Rath and Saks’s Phil Miller — who dubbed himself the “elder statesman of the American retailers by virtue of evolution” — were all there. So was Bloomingdale’s Kal Ruttenstein — who presented Armani with a miniature crystal monkey, a gift from Michael Gould — and Barneys’s Gene Pressman, who was everybody’s pal. After planting big kisses on Armani’s cheek, he grabbed Bergdorf’s Dawn Mello. He said his overt affection for a competitor was all right because “this is the Nineties.”

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