Carlo Capasa

MILAN “Well, invites were sent to the old government, now we will send them again to the new one, even though some names haven’t changed,” quipped Camera Nazionale della Moda’s president Carlo Capasa at the press conference about Milan Fashion Week held here on Thursday.

Originally intended to illustrate the schedule and the details of the upcoming fashion event, running Sept. 17 to 23, the conference turned out to reference Italy’s current political situation multiple times.

Just one hour before Capasa made his speech, Giuseppe Conte took an oath to serve the country as its Prime Minister for the second time, ending the three-week political impasse that marked the Italian summer season.

As reported, Conte resigned on Aug. 20 dissolving the coalition between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the anti-immigration Lega Nord right-wing party, which was received with skepticism from markets since it rose to power 15 months ago after both populist parties were winners at the general elections.

Conte’s resignation was the peak of a political crisis ignited by Lega Nord’s leader and Italy’s deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who called a vote of no confidence in the government and sought early elections to leverage his popularity to raise to power.

After consulting party leaders, Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella denied elections to proceed with a new majority. Conte reprised his role under a new government backed by the Five Star Movement and the center-left Democrats.

Not that the new coalition promises to last, according to local media and analysts. The two parties refused to even consider talks over the past year, and the popular opinion is that the new administration originated by the common urge to block Salvini’s power rather than based on shared ideas and intentions that could provide a long-term stability to the country.

Yet Capasa was optimistic about the new majority. “I have positive expectations. At this moment, we need a government that strongly relaunches the Italian economy and its best assets. I wish this administration will do what we expect from it, which is also to boost jobs and work opportunities,” he said. “We need to function so we can give jobs to our younger generations. There are so many young people who need to be employed and the fashion industry has the opportunity to enroll many of them, but our companies need to be facilitated, as well as international relationships. We need to establish a positive environment to generate positivity in this country,” said Capasa.

“The auspice is for the new political season to increase its attention to this industry and its whole supply chain, which is key for Italy, compared to the recent past,” echoed Milan’s fashion and design city councilor Cristina Tajani, seated next to Capasa. “Not only Milan, but the entire country needs for this industry to be more competitive internationally.”

Camera Nazionale della Moda’s president said that sales of the Italian fashion industry are expected to grow “only 0.1 percent by the end of the year,” marking a significant slowdown compared to the 3 percent average growth registered in the past. He pointed to “the international circumstances, which were not favorable for Italy’s first industry in terms of exports.”

Yet this didn’t dent Milan’s attractiveness, according to Capasa, who presented a packed fashion schedule comprising 58 shows, 110 presentations and more than 40 events.

Among the new names, Peter Pilotto and Boss joined the show calendar, along with Drome, Shuting Qiu and Simona Marziali, who won the 2018 edition of the Who’s on Next context. As reported, some key Italian fashion players agreed to rotate slots to favor a more balanced calendar, including Prada which will unveil its spring 2020 collection on Sept. 18, a Wednesday, instead of taking its usual Thursday spot. Consequently, Gucci will postpone and stage its show on that Sunday, Sept. 22. In thanking the brands for the collaboration, Capasa underscored how the reshuffle provided more space in the calendar for emerging brands, further increasing the fashion event’s appeal.

“In the eventuality of a Brexit, Milan could represent a haven for all those brands that want to keep international relationships,” he said. “We are collaborating with the British Fashion Council to find solutions because fashion and creativity have no boundaries and there are moments a location works better than another. So we are thinking about how to deal with this situation that could be tricky also for their young designers,” he added.

Asked about the other big competitor fashion-wise, Capasa sported the same collaborative mood, saying that “relationships with Paris are very good. Take the Fashion Pact, for instance: Our brands were among the first ones to take part in the project.”

“We are trying to think like one cohesive system. If 41 percent of the fashion items in Europe are manufactured in Italy and only 8 percent in France, it means French companies produce in our country, so the frontier between us is just an apparent one. We work very closely and we are allies on fundamental topics. Then, of course, for the fashion weeks there’s a healthy competition,” he added with a smile.

Flanking the shows in Milan, a range of fashion and cultural initiatives will be staged during the event.

Louis Vuitton’s itinerary “Time Capsule” exhibition will touch down in Milan, opening to the public on Sept. 20 and running for a month in the central Palazzo Reale. Many brands will also leverage the fashion week’s visibility to celebrate the opening of new stores, including Tod’s, MSGM, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini and Philipp Plein, while Gucci will host a special, in-store event with Dapper Dan.

Through its CNMI Fashion Trust nonprofit initiative that aims to endorse emerging designers through financial support and mentoring program, Italy’s fashion chamber will support the Act. n.1, Tiziano Guardini and Marco Rambaldi shows. The Fashion Hub project will showcase six other Italian emerging brands, in addition to a range of African, Hungarian and Chinese young talents as part of local partnerships. A collaboration with Alibaba Group will spotlight additional Chinese labels through two events.

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