Gold fever at Milan Fashion Week

Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:50am EDT
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By Antonella Ciancio

MILAN (Reuters) - Fashion designers poured gold onto the Milan catwalks this week with collections rich in metallic finishes and designed to appeal to buyers who are keeping the luxury industry afloat in austere times.

Luxury goods firms at Milan fashion week were reluctant to discuss growth in 2012, but said surging demand from emerging market countries such as China could help the industry ride out any recession which arises from the current Euro zone crisis and a global economic malaise.

"I cannot make forecasts for next year given the current economic situation," Michele Norsa, chief executive of shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo told Reuters before a show at Milan's stock exchange, where the group listed in June.

Fashion doyen Giorgio Armani's catwalk collection displayed thin trousers underneath longer dresses, a layered look that some experts said could be targeted at women from the Middle East and China.

"Many houses are pinning their hopes on geographies that they weren't even operating in 10 years ago," James Lawson, director of international luxury market research specialists Ledbury Research, told Reuters. "Asia, for example, accounts for about half of the recent growth in the industry," he said.

The fashion industry, a key contributor to Italy's economy, is expected to generate almost 63 billion euros ($86 billion)this year, up only 4 percent from 2010 after Italy's Chamber of Fashion halved its forecasts. However, demand for Italian quality remains high among Asian customers, experts said.

"The Chinese love our style," Chamber of Fashion President Mario Boselli said at the launch of luxury label Gucci's new museum in Florence.

Armani's spring/summer 2012 collection also offered soft jackets employing a tiny concealed hook to hold them closed and sheer evening dresses embroidered with minute translucent crystals like drops of water.   Continued...

<p>A model presents a creation as part of the Gianfranco Ferre Spring/Summer 2012 women's collection during Milan Fashion Week September 26, 2011. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>