Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce (R) and Stefano Gabbana acknowledge applause following the presentation of their Women Fall - Winter 2020 fashion collection on February 23, 2020 in Milan. (AFP/Andreas Solaro)
Milan kicks off its first Digital Fashion Week on Tuesday with two live runway shows, including from heavyweights Dolce & Gabbana, to send out a message of "positivity."
Running through Friday, this "phygital" fashion week -- featuring both physical and digital shows -- will present the Men's Spring/Summer 2021 collections, as well as men's and women's pre-collections.
This is the third such show after London and Paris and Italy's first fashion week after the coronavirus crisis.
Thirty-seven brands answered the call, including two who opted for real, in-person fashion shows: D&G and the Italian house Etro.
"We decided to present the collections with a physical fashion show to give a strong positive message, fundamental at this time for the fashion system and the city of Milan," wrote Kean and Veronica Etro in a statement.
"Real interaction is fundamental to fashion."
Etro will be hold its show at the Four Seasons Hotel located in a converted 15th century convent while D&G has chosen the gardens of the university campus of the Humanitas Hospital, which has been involved in coronavirus research and which the fashion brand supports financially.
Last month, Sicilian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana announced their return to the Italian Fashion Chamber (Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana) and to the official calendar.
Since 1998 they have shown their collections outside the official calendar, due to differences with the management at the time.
The chamber's president, Carlo Capasa, called it "a great return."
"It comes at a difficult time for fashion and shows the strong bond that the designers have with our country. Today, more than ever, it is important to be united to safeguard our unique industry in the world", Capasa said in a statement.
Dolce and Gabbana said that "today, more than ever, fashion needs positivity and strong unity".
Digital versus real
The hybrid Fashion Week will be kicked off by MSGM at noon on Tuesday (1000 GMT), a day also marked by shows from Prada, Moschino and Philipp Plein.
On Wednesday Etro and D&G follow suit, with Salvatore Ferragamo, Tod's and Dsquared2 on Thursday. The week closes Friday with Gucci, Ermenegildo Zegna and Missoni.
To accommodate buyers, the chamber will offer live appointments round the clock over various time zones.
In addition to the fashion shows, brand presentations, interviews and backstage sessions, there will be virtual "theme rooms" covering a wide range of topics, from sustainable development to diversity and technological innovations.
Two other digital events, International Hub Market and Together for Tomorrow, are dedicated to upcoming designers.
It remains to be seen how buyers and the media react to Milan's hybrid fashion week.
The Paris shows that ended Monday were presented in video, with some critics saying the new format fell somewhat flat.
"Digital has a long way to go — light years — before it can replace the live fashion event," wrote fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily (WWD), citing the "the genuine, enjoyable intimacy of actually 'being there,'" for a one-time-only fashion show.
Barring a new wave of coronavirus, Milan is expected to return, for the most part, to its physical fashion shows for its Spring-Summer 2021 Women's collections from September 22 to 28.
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