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Milan Fashion Week kicks off despite an uncertain outlook for luxury



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(From left to right) Iceberg, Alabama Muse and Maison Yoshiki FW24 runway shows at Milan fashion week. Credits: Launchmetrics

Milan - Milan Fashion Week kicked off its runway shows Wednesday with the fashion set tackling a fresh round of sashaying, posing and air-kissing -- even amid an uncertain outlook for luxury.

On the first day of women's shows, two anti-fur activists stormed the Fendi catwalk before being forcibly removed, while outside the venues, traffic snarled as hundreds of arriving fashion influencers primped for the awaiting cameras.

Upcoming shows from Roberto Cavalli, Prada, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, among many others, promise a dose of festivity and froufrou in Italy's northern fashion capital following fashion weeks in New York and London.

But the 56 runway shows through Sunday on Milan's Fall/Winter 2024-2025 calendar come amid a backdrop of uncertainty in the global luxury fashion market.

Muted growth projections, inflation concerns, an economic slowdown in China and geopolitical risk are all weighing on the sector.

According to McKinsey's State of Fashion report published in November, it is expected to expand globally by just three to five percent this year.

That is down the estimated five to seven percent for 2023.

Italy's fashion sector includes clothing and leather, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics and accessories. It grew four percent to nearly 103 billion euros ($110 billion) last year, according to estimates from the National Chamber for Italian Fashion.

The association's head, Carlo Capasa, said it was too early to know how the industry would fare in 2024, calling it a "complex year."

"We know there are three wars, European and US elections," Capasa said during a press conference earlier this month. "It's a year of transition."

Glitterati gather

But frayed nerves are rarely on display in the front rows, as the glitterati gather.

Instead, at Fendi, a woman carrying an "Animals are NOT clothing" sign marched onto the runway just seconds after the show's start before being removed by security.

Within minutes, a man attempted a similar move but was wrestled away by guards before reaching the catwalk. PETA UK later claimed the action.

Fendi is one of the few luxury fashion brands that continue to use fur -- although none in the collection by designer Kim Jones shown Wednesday.

Instead, Jones riffed on sweaters, deconstructing them into shirts or shawls, seen jauntily tossed over the shoulder in muted tones of moss, taupe and chocolate.

The sweater look was again teased on a wool minidress, with thick cable knit running down its front.

At Alberta Ferretti, mustard hues and shimmering bronzes brought an upscale, adult sophistication to the collection of silk dresses, coats and separates.

Earlier, denim brand Diesel presented a suitably rock n' roll collection including pants and dresses in grey plaid suit fabric jeans with post-apocalyptic floral fabric that looked as if it had been eaten away by acid.

More than 100,000 people -- buyers, media and brand representatives -- were expected for the week, up 10 percent on last February, Capasa said.

Expectations are high for Thursday's debut collection of Adrian Appiolaza for Moschino.

The Argentine designer, previously at Loewe, was named creative director of the irreverent, pop-influenced brand last month after his predecessor Davide Renne died just 10 days into the job.

The Gucci veteran, who died in November, had been brought in when Jeremy Scott stepped down after a decade at the helm.

Founded by Franco Moschino, the label is known for playful, quirky creations often embellished with slogans -- such as "Gilt without Guilt" or "Good Taste Doesn't Exist" -- or riffing on iconic consumer brands, from McDonald's to Barbie.

Debut collections are also expected from Walter Chiapponi at Blumarine -- and Matteo Tamburini at Tod's.

Chiapponi had been artistic director at Tod's since 2019, and when he left he was replaced by Tamburini, most recently head of ready-to-wear for Bottega Veneta.

In a nod to Milan Fashion Week's many fans from Asia, Tuesday night's launch events included the debut of Maison Yoshiki, the label by Japanese rock star Yoshiki Hayashi.

The artist, 58, who has put his name on energy drinks, kimonos, and even an edgy Hello Kitty twin, Yoshikitty, has described his new line as a "feminine but also genderless collection, flamboyant with a rebellious touch".(AFP)

Milan Fashion Week