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  •  Bangladesh Heritage and Ethnic Society of Alberta · Promoter of Bangladeshi Culture and Heritage in and around Edmonton
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MILAN, Sept 20, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - The top names in Italian fashion are showcasing their work at Milan Fashion Week starting Wednesday, with expectations high for the first Gucci collection under its new creative director.

Almost 70 catwalk shows are scheduled over six days in the northern Italian city, with Fendi, Prada, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta and Giorgio Armani among those showing their spring-summer 2024 collections.

The hottest ticket in town is Friday's Gucci show, the first under new artistic director Sabato De Sarno.

The Italian, who previously supervised the men's and women's collections at Valentino, was named in January to replace star designer Alessandro Michele.

The legendary brand, owned by French luxury group Kering, has also seen the departure of long-time chief executive Marco Bizzarri this year as it grapples with stagnating sales.

There are other new faces this week, with Tom Ford making its Milan debut under the leadership of Peter Hawkings and Simone Bellotti's first collection as design director at Bally.
Off the catwalk, 76 presentations and 33 events are planned, including Moschino's 40th birthday celebrations.

Moncler, known for its puffer jackets, is presenting Wednesday its new collection in collaboration with musician turned designer Pharrell Williams, who made his debut for Louis Vuitton in Paris in June.

And Diesel is repeating an initiative trialled with success last year, with a show Wednesday to which ordinary members of the public were able to obtain tickets.

According to data from Italy's national fashion chamber, industry sales were up seven percent over the first six months of 2023.

"We estimate annual sales to increase by 4.5 percent compared to 2022, at more than 103 billion euros ($110 billion)," said chamber president Carlo Capasa.

Exports are forecast to be up six percent over the year. Between January and May, exports to China and Japan were up more than 18 percent.

Matteo Zoppas, head of Italy's trade and investment agency, said the "Made in Italy" brand remained strong.

"Compared to general growth in Italian exports of 4.8 percent in the first five months of 2023, fashion exports rose 7.4 percent in the same period -- and female fashion was up 11.4 percent," he said in a statement.