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BEIJING — MaxMara’s Coats! retrospective landed in China amid great fanfare this weekend in a bid to enhance the Italian brand’s reputation with young consumers here.

With the western world entering an economic slump of uncertain proportions and duration, still-booming China remains one of the few bright spots on the global retail landscape, MaxMara Chairman Luigi Maramotti told journalists just hours before the exhibit opened Saturday.

Though he refrained from discussing specific business plans or possible expansions of MaxMara in China, Maramotti did say this country holds great potential for the industry and his company. The company has confirmed at least one store opening in Beijing in coming months, in the new Qianmen retail area.

“This country and this city will be at the head of the world…so I’m very happy we’re here now,” said Maramotti, noting the brand has had a presence in China for two decades.

MaxMara hosted a formal dinner on Friday night against the dramatic backdrop of the ancestral garden at Beijing’s Forbidden City, a now perennial setting for fashion functions in Beijing. On Saturday, celebrities including Chinese actresses Maggie Zhang and Tang Wei attended the official opening of Coats! at National Museum of Art, which runs through Nov. 12. The weekend festivities ended late Saturday evening with a fashion show set against the dramatic backdrop of a former power plant in Beijing’s factory row-turned art district.

The runway show, staged in the city’s recently renovated Water Dam, featured the spring/summer 2009 MaxMara and Sportmax collections as well as a special collection of 30 coats styled on models donning Chinese dresses and ornamental hair pieces.

“Nobody can deny that China is an incredible potential market,” Maramotti said. “We are looking at it with great interest, especially because it is such a young market.”

The relative youth of China’s emerging consumer market was an especially important factor in bringing the Coats! exhibit to Beijing, Maramotti said. Younger Chinese consumers are concerned with a label’s history and depth, he said, and the museum exhibit will help illustrate to consumers here MaxMara’s importance as a staying power in international fashion.

The exhibit, which debuted in Berlin and made a stop in Tokyo, offers a look at 70 MaxMara coats representing 55 years of Italian fashion and the work of several decades of house designers. The exhibit offers the same coats that appeared in the past two stops, plus one new local addition: a traditional embroidered silk Imperial top robe gracing the wall of the main room.

Despite a barrage of questions about the state of the world economy and its potential impact on the industry, company officials remained optimistic. Adelheld Rasche, curator of the Coats! show, said history illustrates a global downturn does not mean the end of fashion. “In bad times, fashion has always been more important than in good times,” Rasche said. “It’s always been like this.”




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