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University apparel: Fashion Week clashes

Milan Fashion Week - Fall/Winter 2010

Barely able to recover from the catwalk whirlwind that was S/S 12, the fashion world has once again been hit by longstanding hostilities between the four fashion capitals. Earlier this month, Milan announced that they would begin showing new season collections on September 19th, a week earlier than originally planned, despite an international scheduling agreement created in September 2008 to avoid this very problem. This move would clash entirely with London and overlap by one day with New York fashion week, forcing editors, models and buyers to choose between the cities. The controversial decision also creates severe problems for designers like Christopher Kane, who is due to show his own collection in London and Versus, for which he designs, in Milan almost simultaneously.

The 2008 contract states that New York fashion week should begin on the second Thursday of September, followed by London, Milan and Paris respectively. However, next year’s schedule is affected by the late falling of Labour Day, pushing New York fashion week, and therefore all shows, back by one week. Milan, however, claim the lateness of these dates jeopardise production deadlines for retail orders. Furthermore, The Italian Chamber of Fashion argue that the schedule agreement only stood for three years, supported by Paris who were hot on Milan’s heels in moving their show dates forward. New York and London maintain that the agreement was permanent, and are appealing to syndicates from Paris to revert to the originally agreed show dates.

As of yet, no capital is willing to move their show dates, bringing about a series of appeals from fashion heavyweights. Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue and Sussex alumna, has pledged her support to London, stating “if an unfortunate situation arose whereby Milan clashed with London, as British Vogue we would support London”. Similarly, Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Conde Nast International, informed the chairman of the Italian Chamber of Fashion that “we at Condé Nast do not want the schedule to be changed. We very much oppose moving the Milan shows earlier so that they overlap or conflict with the London or New York fashion shows. [Vogue editors] will not under any circumstances abandon the London or New York shows if the Milan shows are moved earlier”. It has been suggested that Newhouse includes the editor of Italian Vogue in this statement. The last word is currently with London, who released a statement expressing both their “great disappointment” and “incredible support from both international and domestic media and retailers to retain the existing agreement”.

So with a solution nowhere in sight, do these difficult times signal the beginning of the end of the arguably outdated biannual catwalk season? Customers expect their fashion fast, and with the meteoric rise of social media you can watch a catwalk show live online, even shopping straight from the runway. Debate continues while we await a judgement on whether or not Milan breached their agreement, and only time will tell whether Milan will be left in the cold next September.

Isabella Silvers

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