Giorgio Armani has been very active and outspoken in his support of Italian fashion. Sometimes his support is positive, like when he launched an initiative to support a young Italian designer each season by hosting him or her at his show space. Other times, it's less positive, like when he slams other designers for moving their shows to other cities, like Paris.
On Wednesday, instead of slamming Italian designers and business people in the press, he's joined them by becoming a board member of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion which, according to WWD, is aiming to reinvigorate Milan Fashion Week. It sounds like his reluctance to join prior to now stemmed from the fact that there are still Italian brands who don't show in Italy. Armani issued the following statement:
While I still believe that all Italian brands should hold their fashion shows in Italy to give due prominence to our country, as an entrepreneur I understand that certain situations, created over the years, need time to be reorganised. I appreciate the move made by Ennio Capasa, which constitutes an important first step in this direction. In the hope that other Italian companies follow this example, in the meantime, it seems only right, and indeed necessary, for me to send a further strong signal of commitment and confidence aimed at boosting an upswing in the vitality of Italian fashion and, at the same time, to show a sign of support for the actions undertaken by the other brand members of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion.
The timing of the announcement is no coincidence: Just the day before, Miu Miu (which shows in Paris despite being based in Italy) announced plans to move many of its operations from Italy to Paris, where it shows its collections.
That's not to say that Miu Miu or its parent company, Prada, is dismissing Italy entirely. Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada, is also joining the new board (as are Diego Della Valle and Gildo Zegna). And Prada will continue to show at Milan Fashion Week. Prada has said previously that Miu Miu shows in Paris because it can't stage two shows (Prada and Miu Miu) during the same Fashion Week; and because Miu Miu shows in Paris, it makes sense to establish a more solid corporate base there.
Still, that doesn't make things easier for Milan. The city has struggled in recent years to draw the same level of attention and interest as the other fashion capitals. Anna Wintour famously skipped out on most of Milan last season (though she made up for it by seeing through the whole week this past September). In 2011, the Chamber, headed up by Mario Boselli, scheduled its spring 2013 fashion week dates to conflict with New York and London's, which was pretty insane. Boselli was famously stubborn for months but eventually conceded.
With Armani's help, hopefully Milan's designers and CEOs can work together to come up with a more peaceful solution to reinvigorate MFW.