Milan menswear opens out, in anniversary mood

Sat Jun 19, 2010 2:04pm EDT
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By Antonella Ciancio

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Designers such as Italian duo Dolce & Gabbana and Belgian Dirk Bikkembergs are hoping to lure crisis-hit shoppers back by staging fashion events in Milan's most popular squares.

Male models and celebrities strut catwalks and red carpets in more than 30 shows and dozens of showroom collections during the Milan spring/summer 2011 fashion week, which runs until Tuesday and takes place amid timid signs of economic recovery.

Sales of tailored suits, ties and leather shoes declined by 11.3 percent to 8 billion euros ($9.91 billion) in 2009, one of the worst years ever for Italian menswear, said Sistema Moda Italia, a body representing Italy's clothing and textile industry.

However, wealthy spenders were back in the shops in the first months of the year and should help raise global luxury sales by more than 4 percent in 2010, according to U.S. consultancy Bain and Co.

"This edition will be particularly important to assess the pace of recovery, which is certainly under way, but whose vigor has to be strengthened," Mario Boselli, president of Italy's National Chamber of Fashion, said in a statement.

The image of Italy's fashion capital, competing with cities such as London, Paris and New York, will enjoy a boost from significant anniversaries marked by Ermenegildo Zegna and Dolce & Gabbana.

However, a shadow was cast over the shows by the death of a catwalk model, 22-year-old Frenchman Tom Nicon, whose body was found in the courtyard of a building in central Milan Friday. Police said they were investigating.