MILAN - Flowing fabrics and sparkling corsets filled catwalks for the first day of Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday which organisers and industry professionals hope will cement the Italian city's status as a fashion hub.
Models decked out in corseted cocktail dress swimsuits strutted down a sand-covered runway at the 1950s-inspired show by Canadian designers DSquared2, while waiters made cocktails behind a tiki-hut style bar.
Gucci designer Frida Giannini presented sequined kimonos with plunging necklines and loose cropped trousers in fluid fabrics to an auditorium packed with some of the 15,000 people fashion trade body Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI)estimates come to Milan for the women's fashion week.
Fashion is a key contributor to the Italian economy, with a predicted turnover of 58.86 billion euros (S$99 billion) in 2013, according to the CNMI.
The CNMI says sales volumes for clothing, leather goods and footwear are expected to dip 2.5 per cent this year, at a lower rate than the 5.4 per cent decline recorded in 2012, driven by exports outside the crisis-hit euro zone.
Diesel jeans founder Renzo Rosso said: "Brands go where they have more bargaining power." His company Staff International holds a licence to produce and distribute DSquared2 clothing.
"This week needs to be done well, otherwise buyers won't come here any more, they'll go to other cities which do it better."
While access to the 74 fashion shows on the week's official calendar is hard to get, the CNMI and Milan's local government are broadcasting shows on outdoor screens.