A call for unity and cooperation came loud and clear from Mario Boselli, president of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, during a news conference Thursday to introduce Milan’s fashion week, which kicks off Saturday and runs until Oct. 3.

Boselli said total revenues for the fashion industry are expected to climb 2.5 percent by the end of the year to $83.69 billion (or 69.74 billion euros at current exchange), compared with last year — which was generally considered fashion’s annus horribilis. In 2003, the sector reported a 4.3 percent drop in revenues from 2002. “We must all work together and promote fashion around the world, cooperating with other excellent industries, such as design and food,” said Boselli, noting that exports are still weak. “A sign of recovery came late in the year and is still far from being extended to all divisions: the leather and textile sectors were still suffering midyear, while apparel reacted better and faster to an improvement of the macroeconomic climate, up 5 percent in the second trimester.”

Well into 2005, a weak U.S. dollar will remain the big stumbling block for Italy’s exports, he added.

Milan’s fashion week lists 219 collections: These include runway shows (see calendar, page 14) and other presentations. Boselli said 1,600 journalists are expected from 50 countries.

The following houses will hold their first runway shows during fashion week: Collection Privèe, designed by Massimo Bizzi; Debora Sinibaldi, a former designer at Gianfranco Ferré and consultant at Celine; Gibò, under the creative direction of the Japanese designer Ichiro Seta — Gibò was previously designed by Julie Verhoeven and showed in London; from Spain and Greece, respectively, designers Agatha Ruiz de la Prada and Angelos Frentzos, who showed his men’s collection in June here. Absent from the runways since February 2001, Ter et Bantine, now under the Mariella Burani Fashion Group umbrella, will show Oct. 2. The line is designed by Manuela Arcari.

Of note during the week: “Frozen,” an exhibition of photos by Scottish photographer Albert Watson; a photo exhibition by Gerard Malanga at Carla Sozzani’s gallery, and an exhibition of footwear designs by Andy Warhol at the city’s Triennale museum. These are part of Luigino Rossi’s private collection. Rossi heads Rossimoda, a footwear maker under LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which is opening a showroom in Milan as well. Rossi, a pop art collector and friend of Warhol, will also display other Warhol paintings and a selection of vintage footwear, ranging from Yves Saint Laurent to Ungaro and Fendi at the showroom debut.

This story first appeared in the September 20, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Another venerable footwear company, René Caovilla, will open its first store with a cocktail party on Via Bagutta, off Via Montenapoleone, on Sept. 29. Decorated with Caovilla’s personal 18th-century Venetian sofas and tapestries, glittering chandeliers, antique rugs, a Christo painting and Chinese vases, Caovilla said, “A minimalist decor would not suit our shoes,” referring to the jewel-encrusted stilettos displayed on a table covered by gold leaves and surrounded by an ostrich-hide frame or in a large Louis Vuitton-style trunk made with eel skin and lined in satin.

Valextra and Ralph Lauren will officially open their new boutiques here during the week. And while keeping mum on details, Hogan is planning a film-related extravaganza.

— Luisa Zargani