STARLIGHT: Celebrities weren’t exactly out in force this season. Still, as usual, Giorgio Armani drew more than anybody else. Sophia Loren, Martin Scorsese, Claudia Cardinale and Eric Clapton all showed up at Armani, while, in a surprise move, Uma Thurman stole the spotlight at Alberta Ferretti. The photographers went wild. But laryngitis prevented Thurman from talking to her fans — although she did prove capable of whispering to the dark-haired man sitting next to her. Thurman flew in from New York especially for the show, which may mean that she’s switching from Prada to Ferretti for the Oscars. And there were no celebrity front rows at Versace. “This season, Gianni didn’t want any stars at his shows,” said his brother Santo.

FUR REAL: Guess what’s back on the runways? Fur — the real thing. Designers here still love fake fur, but many of them also showed touches of mink, rabbit and sable on cuffs and collars, fur shawls and linings. Among those taking the plunge were Anna Molinari (in her signature and Blumarine collections), Max Mara, Antonio Fusco and Genny, all of whom had fur trims. Dolce & Gabbana added a lush touch to those prints with fur shawls, and Prada opted for calfskin jackets in deep blue and green. Some designers say simply that times have changed. “Even the models don’t make a fuss anymore,” Domenico Dolce said.

PRESS SCANDAL AT PRADA: The latest scandalo in Milan erupted after Prada barred four Italian dailies — and Italy’s largest wire service — from its Thursday show. Patrizio Bertelli, Miuccia Prada’s husband and co-owner of the business, said he was tired of reading fashion stories that read like social columns. “These papers just don’t talk about our work. Fashion is in danger of becoming gossip — who’s at the show, what stunts they pull, and other gimmicks,” said Bertelli, who added that he was considering pulling advertising from the banned papers. “I’m not afraid of criticism, and I don’t seek consensus, but I make clothes to sell, not to show off.”
”I’m furious,” snapped Antonella Amapane, fashion writer for La Stampa, who wasn’t invited to the show. Also barred were writers for Il Messaggero, l’Unita, Il Tempo and the ANSA wire service. L’Unita, for its part, bit back with a scathing editorial Friday: “What happened to freedom of the press? A lot of specialized monthly magazines rave about [Prada’s] ‘intellectual style,’ which actually goes from the ugly to the pathological, as though it were a miracle — things like ‘inventing’ the bare leg for winter. But it’s the job of the dailies to keep people in touch with reality. In the end, the market will decide.”

SHOPPING FRENZY: Fashion groupies swooped down on Milan’s golden triangle during show week, carting off truckloads of Gucci goods and forcing stores like Prada and Versace to hire extra security guards to control the crowds. Store managers said sales this week far outpaced those during the same period last year. Despite the fact that Gucci hired 10 extra salespeople to handle the crowds, the store was forced to close its doors at peak hours and let customers in two at a time. “From 10 in the morning until closing time, there wasn’t a moment’s peace,” a spokeswoman said.
Down the street at Ferragamo, the line at the cash register was so long it was hard to tell where it began and where it ended. The Valentino, FerrE, Krizia, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana boutiques were also bursting with customers — and shop managers said they weren’t just window-shopping. “They’re buying,” said Stefano Crosariol, the assistant manager at Dolce & Gabbana on Via della Spiga. “This is the way things should be.”

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