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Trade show season is getting more crowded in Milan, as two new fairs joined the regular Neozone, Touch, Cloudnine and White expos.

This story first appeared in the November 3, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

MI Milano ready-to-wear made its debut at Milan’s fieramilanocity, and White Beauty, dedicated to alternative fragrance and cosmetics brands, was unveiled at the White show.

The fairs ran in Milan from Sept. 27 to 29 and organizers reported notable increases in visitors from Eurozone countries, a sign that retailers could be anticipating an uptick in business for spring.

At the four-day MI Milano rtw show, which showcased 87 new brands among its 200 collections, exhibitors including hatmaker Borsalino, Vera Wang Lavender, Scervino Street and Navarraprints showcased collections amid metal fencing, giving the expo an urban feel. Perhaps unsure of what to expect, exhibitors hedged their bets on minimal capsule collections and heavy editing, offering a preview rather than a comprehensive look at the season ahead.

Italian designer Gentucca Bini was showcasing her “speedy fashion” capsule group of 11 dark blue classic pieces that included trenches and Pierre Cardin-inspired blazers with quirky twists. Starting at around $300 at retail, the collection aims to embrace the logic of fast fashion, while preserving the quality of Italian production.

Sales manager Benedetta Moruzzi said the collection had received a good international response, and garnered orders from stores including New York’s Pas de Deux and Artwear on Queen in Sydney.

Young Italian designer Paolo Errico showcased a small functional line of fine-knit pieces in apricot, beige and creams. Inspired by geometric shapes, the pieces can be worn in a multitude of ways with a body-conscious edge.

On the footwear front, Vera Wang’s Lavender line offered chunky, yet practical, gladiator-inspired styles, alongside simple ballerinas and rainbow-colored plastic beach shoes. Spanish designer Pura Lopez showed wedges and sandals with practical heels in muted beige and chocolate brown.

Bags and hats opted for traditional styles, drawing innovation from accessible fabrics and prints that offer good value. Scervino Street showcased a line of wool handbags with suede fringes in red and black that will retail for $300. Reps said the collection earned props from buyers for their entry prices and use of color.

Borsalino showed hats inspired by gardens. Narrow silver panamas from a partnership with Italia Independent were exhibited alongside printed cotton panama hats, a collaboration with young designers of Leit Motiv.

At MI Milano, just 2 percent of its 7,700 buyers were from overseas. Overall, however, the figures reflected an increase of 10 percent compared with the last edition of MilanoVendeModa, the fair’s previous incarnation.

Buyer attendance was up 14 percent from March’s edition to 6,160 for Touch, Neozone and Cloudnine, organized by Pitti Immagine. Foreign visitors comprised 18 percent of the total.

The young Italian design duo at Leit Motiv, meanwhile, chose to showcase their rtw collection at the Touch exhibition at the Nhow hotel in Milan’s Tortona district.

Leit Motiv’s collection of cutout prints, inspired by “Alice in Wonderland,” also featured a debut shoe line for spring in collaboration with Bruno Bordese featuring silk printed uppers. “It’s been a positive fair and we’ve seen a number of important Japanese customers,” said Leit Motiv designer Juan Caro.

Elsewhere, in Touch’s nature area, muted prints and accessories trends like platform shoes dominated the expo’s 140 collections.

First-time Touch vendor Quality People, an American brand, introduced organic knitwear with peace and star slogans. The line, which is made in China, has starting prices of $250 and received orders from European stores such as Blu in London. “People are keen to show their respect for green issues and our brand allows them to feel part of a club,” said the label’s founder, Kellie Delkeskamp.

Italian shoe line Key Tè showcased its Italian-made collection, receiving orders from Bloomingdale’s. “Metallic and studded gladiator styles and wedges with metal eyelets have been the most popular styles,” pointed out sales manager Simona Plebani.

At Pitti Immagine’s dedicated accessories space, Cloudnine, carryover shoe trends like the ballerina lingered. Plastic materials — possibly inspired by the rainy summer — appeared to be the only discernible trend forecast.

Italian brand Plastichic reinforced a back-to-nature theme with sunglasses featuring wooden frames and ultralight silicone watches with wooden straps.

At Neozone, Italian bag maker Zanellato introduced its first collection of women’s bags. The Vicenza-based firm unveiled nine classic styles in fabrics including calf and napa leather in cooperation with designer Pierluigi Fucci. The capsule collection comprised geometric pieces in light, washable leather from the men’s line and a specially treated python skin called “talcum python.”

At White, held at Superstudio Piu, 280 exhibitors contended for buyers’ attention amid a recycled, shabby-chic backdrop. Of all the fairs, White’s “Inside White” space, dedicated to 20 new collections, had the strongest buzz surrounding it. Organizer Massimiliano Bizzi said buyer numbers were up 20 percent from last year to 8,270. Italian buyers jumped 24 percent, and Europe overall rose 5 percent.

Munich-based Paschbeck Fummel + Kram, which started life as a scarf brand, expanded its offering for spring, with its first full collection of whimsical hand-embroidered dresses and tunic tops. The handwoven silk scarves are carried at Italy’s Luisa Via Roma, Colette in Paris, Opening Ceremony in New York and H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles.

Luisa Via Roma also has an ongoing collaboration with Italian designer Marco Mencagli for leather and silver cuffs. Mencagli also showcased his first collection of silver jewelry, Marmèn, inspired by the Gothic moods of Edgar Allan Poe and Tim Burton. Silver necklaces start around $570.

Umbrian women’s wear brand A.B., in its eighth season, attracted buyers with its mix of loose cotton and linen dresses, tunics and blouses with a Provençal inspiration. The brand received 30 orders in two days, according to a company official, supporting the notion that some buyers are opting for wearability over newness.

Similar oversize trends were evident by Belgian designer Sofie D’Hoore, who showed cotton dresses in electric blue and orange, while a Scandinavian brand, The Designers Remix collection by Charlotte Eskildsen, showed feminine, practical pieces combining cotton dresses with transseasonal leather short-sleeve jackets.

British jewelry line Mawi was exhibiting at White to strengthen its relationship with Italian clients and “to create a more intimate atmosphere for the label,” said designer and Italian sales representative Teresa Panerai. With more than 50 retail accounts in Italy, including Pucci, Biffi and Penelope, collection highlights included heirloom pieces with a British feel.

At “The White Club,” the exhibition’s area dedicated to emerging talent, featured designers Mikio Sakabe, Rodnik and Maria Francesca Pepe showcased moody color palettes in black and navy. Japanese designer Sakabe described his “Twilight” collection as “seeking protection from the outside world in rock and heavy metal music.”

In White’s basement space dedicated to the avant-garde, highlights included offerings from Florence designer Rinaldi Emiliano, who’d received orders for his dark leather lace-up pumps, bronze charm necklaces and linen blazers from Japanese department store Beams — a chain of more than 70 shops.

White Beauty, an addition to the White expo, opened its minimalist doors at Superstudio 13 at 9 Via Bugatti. Among the 20 collections exhibiting were Serge Lutens, Shu Uemura, Phillip B. and Geo. F. Trumper. Serge Lutens, distributed by Shiseido, showed its Fille en Aiguilles fragrance and a forthcoming release, Koublai Khan, a refined and sensual blend of vanilla, patchouli and Moroccan Rose.

“We’ve found the fair useful to reach new fashion contacts,” said Francesca Piucci, Shiseido communications manager, “particularly concept stores that want to develop fragrance corners.”


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