MILAN - Clothes horses from around the world descended on Milan for the start of fashion week on Wednesday where thoroughbreds Armani, Gucci and Prada will be joined by up-and-coming young bucks.
Silver-maned Italian stallions and leggy Russian models strutted their stuff on the streets of Italy's commercial capital, shopping in the city's fashion district or sipping cool cocktails at outdoor terraces in the last summer sun.
Gucci, DSquared2 and Alberta Ferretti kick off 74 catwalks for the spring/summer 2014 collections on Wednesday, preceded by revelry at Vogue Fashion's Night Out with crowds of clubbers packing into boutiques.
The city this year is trying to encourage young people to join the fashion business and there will be five designers showing a collection for the first time.
Milan has to establish itself as "the most prestigious platform for young talent", Franca Sozzani, editor of Vogue Italia, said at a press conference.
In a first for the city, top names in the business including Giorgio Armani and Roberto Cavalli will join Milan mayor Giuliano Pisapia at the world-famous La Scala opera house for a formal inauguration later on Wednesday.
French-owned Fendi and pride of Milan Prada take to the catwalks on Thursday, followed by Emporio Armani, Etro and Versace on Friday.
Saturday it will be the turn of Bottega Veneta, Roberto Cavalli, Gil Sander and Moschino, then Missoni and Salvatore Ferragamo on Sunday.
Dolce & Gabbana will also be showing on Sunday although they are not on the official calendar following a re-organisation of fashion week and a spat with Milan authorities over a tax fraud case they are involved in.
Giorgio Armani and Gianfranco Ferre will round off the week on Monday.