Milan fashion week opens with hopes of economic comeback
By Antonella Ciancio
MILAN (Reuters) - Designers kicked off Milan fashion week on Wednesday with bold collections to persuade Italian shoppers that the worst of the economic crisis is over and it is time to hit the stores again.
Fashion houses including PPR's Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Prada are among the top names showing their womenswear 2013-14 autumn-winter collections, taking up the baton from catwalk shows in London.
"I have great hopes for this country after the political and economic debacle of the last months," cashmere goods maker Brunello Cucinelli told Reuters at his showroom.
The colorful crowd of fashion critics and bloggers descending on Milan will mix this year with Italian voters heading to the ballot box on February 24-25 to choose a new government and decide the country's future economic path.
Italy came close to a major debt crisis in November 2011 before Silvio Berlusconi stood down as prime minister and was replaced by technocrat Mario Monti.
"There is a need to clean up politics and give small businesses the incentives to hire people," Maurizio Modica, co-designer at Italy's brand Frankie Morello, told Reuters.
Sales of Italian fashion goods are forecast to drop 3.5 percent to around 58 billion euros ($77 billion) this year, after falling 5.4 percent in 2012, according to preliminary data by textile and fashion body Sistema Moda Italia (SMI).
Gucci, the first big name brand to show, proposed a fetish aesthetic for its sensual collection, with sculpted dresses in materials such as python skin. Continued...