On June 22 Giorgio Armani will open his Milan runway space to up-and-coming Italian fashion designers as part of his latest push to bolster the city’s fashion week. Menswear designer Andrea Pompilio will show his spring/summer collection at Armani’s venue to kick off the designer’s initiative, which will spotlight a different young designer each season.
“We need concrete actions to support Italian fashion, initiatives that give more strength and a feeling of novelty to Milan’s Fashion Week,” said Armani. “It is for this reason that I decided to make my theatre on Via Bergognone available for the fashion shows of some of the most promising designers, who can count on my building’s technical services.”
Armani’s new program comes a month after the designer called on Italian brands to bring all their ready-to-wear shows back to Milan (many are currently owned by French conglomerates and show during Paris Fashion Week, which follows Milan’s event). But some designers, such as Miuccia Prada, who presents her namesake collection in Milan, but her Miu Miu show in Paris, argue that it’s just not possible with timing, to stage two runway shows within days of each other, even if she shares Armani’s sentiments.
“With the sale of our luxury labels to foreigners, our entire system risks falling into second league,” Prada told La Republicca, in a 2012 interview translated by WWD. “Because if our brands cross our borders, the credit, glamour, fame and decision making is in the hands of others, and we are abandoned, downgraded.” Prada attributed the preference for Paris in part to the Italian press, whom she faulted for not taking fashion seriously. Designers go elsewhere, “looking for the best,” she said.
Initiatives like Armani’s young designer program aren’t likely to change the fashion community’s perceptions of Milan or convince Italian brands to return overnight. But at the very least, they’re adding momentum to Armani and Italy’s Chamber of Fashion’s efforts to create a stronger presence for Milan.