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Milan Fashion Week makes cautious live return but major brands stay virtual

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Milan Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2020

MILAN (Reuters) – Milan Fashion Week is preparing a mix of live and virtual shows for its first edition since the coronavirus lockdown as designers and fashion houses seek to balance the buzz of the catwalk with precautions imposed by the global pandemic.

Unlike in Men’s Week in July, when with the exception of one open-air event by Dolce & Gabbana, Italy’s fashion industry opted for digital-only showings, a third of the 64 women’s and men’s spring-summer collection shows from Sept. 22-28 will be live with protective measures.

“It was a courageous choice”, Carlo Capasa, chairman of Italy’s National Fashion Chamber (CNMI), said on Thursday at a digital news conference.

But many major brands are opting for virtual or closed-door shows, accepting the loss of the live experience as the cost of keeping buyers and staff safe.

Fashion houses around the world have been experimenting with different formats as they seek to maintain the glamour and excitement of their catwalk shows in an era of face masks and social distancing.

Giorgio Armani, the first Italian designer who decided to show behind closed doors in February when the health crisis was beginning in Italy, announced two events for September, both without guests.

Emporio Armani collections will be presented digitally, while the group’s core brand, Giorgio Armani, will be broadcast on free-to-air television on Saturday evening with the aim of opening up to a wider public.

The long-awaited debut of Belgian designer Raf Simons alongside Miuccia Prada (OTC:PRDSY) will also have no guests, with live streaming online, live private screenings and virtual viewing events in different cities around the world.

The COVID-19 emergency has also brought Italian brand Valentino to Milan from Paris. “We feel that it would be more ethical to produce the new show in Italy, in Milan,” Chief Executive Jacopo Venturini said. The group has not yet revealed how the show will be managed.

Milan Fashion Week makes cautious live return but major brands stay virtual

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