As if retailers and press needed more shows, the ever-expanding fashion circuit has just added another leg: Milano Moda Pre-Collezioni, a presentation of pre-collections to be held at the designers’ showrooms and aimed mainly at international buyers. The new event will precede another series of pre-collection shows organized in Florence by Pitti Immagine.

This story first appeared in the May 15, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The first edition of Milano Moda Pre-Collezioni will kick off May 20 and run for a month. The project is coordinated by the Italian Chamber of Fashion, which is investing 200,000 euros, or $292,280 at current exchange, to promote it. Given the majority of fashion houses’ sales are now done in pre-collections, Mario Boselli, head of the chamber, said the project was a way to “facilitate buyers” and to “stimulate the system.”

But the chamber faces some competition — Pitti W-Woman Precollection, which this year will run from June 18 to 21. Diane von Furstenberg will unveil La Petite Valise (initially dubbed “Hotel Life”), a cruise/pre-spring collection of seasonless clothing geared for globe-trotting women, on June 18 in Florence’s largest private garden, Giardino Torrigiani.

And von Furstenberg said preliminary talks are under way between the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Pitti Immagine to fasten the bonds between the two groups by having more American designers host fashion shows there.

In addition, Hugo Boss will return to Florence with the Boss Orange Fashion Event, a gala, dinner party and runway show that will feature women’s and men’s collections to be held June 19.

Boselli downplayed any competition with the Pitti Immagine-organized event, and said fashion today needs to see “a continuous flow of new products.” He described the presentations at Milano Moda Pre-Collezioni as a “technical moment, with no glamorous and celebrity-filled distractions,” as opposed to the hype surrounding traditional fashion weeks.

But clearly not every brand sees the need to be part of an organized pre-collections calendar. Despite the presence of brands such as Giorgio Armani, Alberta Ferretti, Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Blumarine, Calvin Klein Collection, Costume National, Dsquared, Jean Paul Gaultier Femme produced by Aeffe, Krizia, Mariella Burani, Missoni, Moschino, Strenesse and Valentino, other high-profile houses such as Gucci, Prada and Versace aren’t part of the Milan pre-collections program. Boselli said a number of variables had to be taken into consideration, such as presentations by Gucci in Florence at the end of May.

“Each firm decides its own commercial strategy and decides independently and some companies are in a wait-and-see stance,” said Boselli. “In any case, it was to be expected as this is the first edition of the project.”

As for Pitti W-Women Precollection, adding von Furstenberg to the lineup is a major coup.

Von Furstenberg admitted, though, that showing in another country is no easy task — never mind the fact the show will fall under a full moon. “I didn’t realize how involved it would be. But I don’t regret it and I hope I won’t regret it after the show,” she said. “It will be the first fashion show I’ve had in Europe, yet I’m European.”

Next month’s 500-person affair is inspired by “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” Of course, the fashion show will also be good for the designer’s international business — her collection is sold in 57 countries and she has 24 freestanding stores. But the real guest of honor will be her nine-year-old granddaughter, Talita, who will play the role of her assistant and already has her marching orders. “I’ve told her that we will be working. She will help with the fittings, the casting and all the looks. I will have her make a journal and take pictures,” von Furstenberg said.

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