Designers defy gloom, fight crisis at Milan shows

Mon Mar 2, 2009 10:22am EST
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

MILAN (Reuters) - Milan fashion week may have begun under an economic cloud due to the global financial turmoil but designers showing off their creations have sought to defy the gloomy mood, with some declaring "war" on the crisis.

Roberto Cavalli, who counts the Spice Girls as fans, took a somewhat aggressive approach for next winter's womenswear, presenting "armor" mini-dresses and skirts covered in studs.

He paired them with voluminous fur coats and long skin-tight suede boots, that were zipped at the back and had steel heels.

"You need to attack in order to win. I have declared war on the crisis," Cavalli said. "I am an optimist."

Luxury brands have not been spared by the global economic turmoil and the sector has been hit by growing evidence of restrained spending even among the super-rich.

Italy's clothing and textiles industry is calling for government help, warning of risks facing the sector as the crisis sweeps into demand for clothes and accessories. The government is to unveil a first series of support measures by mid-March.

In a sign of the times, more brands have opted for presentations this Autumn/Winter 2009/2010 fashion week, cutting costs from doing runway shows. There are about 10 less catwalk shows this year, according to the National Chamber of Fashion.

Bottega Veneta Creative Director Tomas Maier said he looked to glamour to lift the somber mood.   Continued...

<p>A model displays a creation as part of Dolce &amp; Gabbana Fall/Winter 2009/10 women's collection during Milan Fashion Week March 2, 2009. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>