Global fashion circus swings into Milan

Is the devil still wearing Prada? Has King Giorgio (Armani) still got the regal touch? And how are the pretenders to his throne shaping up?

Global fashion circus swings into Milan
Milan Fashion Week gets underway on Wednesday. Photo: Mats Eye

As the global fashion circus swings into Milan on Wednesday, the answers to these and some other pressing issues should be a little clearer by the weekend.

Global hemlines up or down? The trend is supposed to be a predictor of which way stocks are headed and there was a time when the only place to get a definitive answer to that question was Milan.

But, like its soccer teams, AC and Inter, Italy's economic epicentre is no longer quite the market-moving force it once was, when it comes to if-you-have-to-ask-the-price-you-can't-afford-it clothing.

The world of high fashion has moved on, globalised and diversified and the competition has never been more ferocious.

New York is punching harder than ever on the back of a Stateside economic recovery that so far has eluded Italy and the rest of the eurozone.

London has ditched quirky-bizarre in favour of quirky-commercial and Paris is, well, Paris.

So there is a feeling among insiders that Milan has something to prove this week as the cream of Italian creativity presents its vision of what well-heeled women the world over should be wearing through the spring and summer of 2015.

Armani protege in spotlight

Sign of the times, perhaps: this week's show will not, as had become traditional, be brought to a close by Armani.

Instead the 80-year-old master of sartorial understatement has opted to show his eponymous collection on Saturday, apparently because of concern that the most influential tailors of opinion in the world of fashion will all be heading home before the week officially wraps up on Monday.

According to fashion media reports, Armani's decision to pull out of the final day prompted some other leading houses to stamp their stilettos and insist on following suit, a state of affairs which has given the week a lop-sided look with the sixth and final day dedicated to new talent and devoid of a marquee name.

And the feeling that all is not absolutely fabulous in the upper echelons of the Italian style industry has been enhanced by the ongoing spat that means Dolce & Gabbana, one of the country's best known brands internationally will, once again, not be part of the official programme of shows.

Lionel Messi's favourite designers will nevertheless be showcasing their 2015 Spring/Summer collection on Sunday.

Gucci are the biggest hitters on the opening day (Prada's stuff will be strutted on Thursday) but there will also be keen interest in the collection being presented by Angelos Bratis, whose increasingly confident touch with elegant womenswear has seen him tipped as a potential successor should Armani himself decide to hand over the creative reins at his huge global empire.

Bratis, who was born in Greece but studied in the Netherlands, is the latest in a series of young designers who have benefited from Armani's sponsorship and he will be showing in the veteran's own Armani Teatro, following in the footsteps of other promising emerging talents including Stella Jean and Julian Zigerli.

Later in the week there will be particularly keen interest in the collection presented by Elisabetta Franchi, a well-established and commercially successful designer from Bologna who is putting on a Milan show for the first time in the hope of bolstering the growing international reputation of her very feminine clothing targeted at the urban workwear market.

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Romanian billionaire and seven others die in Milan plane crash

A light aircraft piloted by Romanian billionaire Dan Petrescu crashed into an empty office building near Milan on Sunday, killing him, his wife and son, and all five others aboard.

Police and rescue teams outside the office building where a small plane crashed in the Milan suburb of San Donato.
Police and rescue teams outside the office building where a small plane crashed in the Milan suburb of San Donato on October 3rd. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The single-engine Pilatus PC-12 had taken off from Milan’s Linate airport shortly after 1pm headed for Olbia in the north of the Italian island of Sardinia.

It crashed just a few minutes later into a building in San Donato Milanese, a town southeast of Milan, according to aviation agency ANSV, which has opened an investigation.

Witnesses said the plane was already in flames before it crashed into an office building undergoing renovations.

Petrescu’s 65-year-old wife, who also had French nationality, and their son Dan Stefano, 30, were killed.

Italian media identified the other passengers as entrepreneur Filippo Nascimbene, a 33-year-old from Lombardy, with his wife, young son and mother-in-law, who have French nationality.

Petrescu, 68, was one of Romania’s richest men. He headed a major construction firm and owned a string of hypermarkets and malls. He also held Germany nationality, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

Flames engulfed the two-storey building, next to the yellow line subway terminus.

“The impact was devastating,” Carlo Cardinali, of the Milan fire brigade, told news agency Ansa.

Deputy prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano was quoted by Corriere as saying that the plane’s black box had been recovered.