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MILAN (Reuters Life!) - After eight days of frenzied shows and presentations, Milan fashion week officially ended on Wednesday, but the majority of the international press and buyers had already gone.
As the luxury goods sector also feels the pain of the global downturn, its fans and followers are also under pressure to cut costs when traveling to fashion capitals New York, London, Milan and Paris.
And Italian design houses are taking this into account.
Milan fashion week has usually seen the top names showing over a short number of consecutive days, but many catwalk regulars said the main part of this spring/summer 2010 womenswear week was particularly intense.
Shows for Giorgio Armani, Prada, Versace, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana among others were squeezed into a catwalk blur that ran from September 24th to 27th.
"Fearing that people would arrive late and leave early, (designers) all together went for the central four days," Mario Boselli, chairman of Italy's national chamber of fashion, said.
"Usually, the last day is the thinnest, this year it's the last two because some people left (on Monday) and (design houses) were scared and asked to change dates."
A last-minute shuffling of slots -- as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur fell on September 28 -- meant fashion week's official calendar was only finalized a week before the event began.
"There are mutterings that these four heavy days were done as the international press are cutting costs and reducing their stay," one U.S. fashion writer, who declined to be named, said.
"And if designers know that their audience is also under pressure, it is absolutely normal for them to want to get their attention especially in tough times like these."
The chamber has said it expects turnover for Italy's fashion industry to fall again this year and has forecast an around 6 percent decline to just over 60 billion euros ($87.98 billion). However it has not ruled out that the fall could be greater.
Some buyers and reporters said they were now opting for the transport provided rather than hiring drivers. "It's not as glamorous but it gets you there," a U.S. journalist observed.
At the shows, canapes and champagne are rarer and guest lists smaller. In total there were 97 catwalk runs on calendar.
Boselli also said there were fewer aperitifs overall.
Buyers said simplicity in clothes was key for sales in the tough market and designers overall preferred the demure over the provocative in their collections, with some names sticking to their roots and what they are best known for.
The international fashion pack has now moved onto Paris, the last leg of this fashion season and shows there end on October 7.
On Wednesday, upcoming designers from Pakistan, India, Russia and Colombia showed off their creations in Milan.
"We would like to have eight full and homogenous days, allowing everyone to work well," Boselli said. "It would also help the young designers. Buyers and press can staying for eight days could see the big names as well as the young designers."
Editing by Paul Casciato