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"It’s Fashion Gay Parade,” DSquared2 designer Dean Caten joked, referring to the crowds strolling Milan’s shopping area near Via Montenapoleone this year for Fashion Night Out. Caten and his twin brother Dan were back from a whirlwind vacation this summer, touching Canada, Ibiza, Barcelona, Mykonos and Capri. “It’s the only free month we have in our life,” shrugged Caten. The siblings were adding more frequent flyer mileage the following day with a trip to Paris to gear up for the opening of a new store there on Oct 2.
A new boutique was top of mind for Veronica Etro, too. The designer will head to China in mid-November to open a door in Beijing. But family comes first and life doesn’t stop for FNO. “I have to rush to a parents’ school meeting,” she said, running to fetch her scooter. At his boutique in Via Spiga, Roberto Cavalli introduced a new member of his family — his new German shepherd puppy. “I should call him Lupo 10,” said the designer, referring to the Italian name of this breed. “I’ve had at least nine of them since 1973,” explained Cavalli.
“We’ve worked so hard on the Olivia Spectator bag,” said Moschino creative director Rosella Jardini, of the brand’s new luxury accessory. So much so, that Jardini decided to design for the event a canvas shopping bag with a trompe l’oeil replica of that tote. And Jardini is not one to take her duties lightly, as she admitted she’s already working on the fall 2012 collection.
Brothers Diego and Andrea Della Valle were also keeping an eye on the shopping element of the affair and were upbeat about customers being willing to open their wallets. “We always register great sales during FNO, which now traditionally marks the beginning of the shopping season,” said Andrea Della Valle.
Conversely, Vittorio Missoni was more skeptical. “I think we mainly sell our gadgets during FNO, the ones that are designed for the event are always a big hit,” he said. This year, this would be hair bands retailing at 60 euros, or $84 at current exchange. “The contact with customers is very important to me, designers shouldn’t stay closed up in their studios,” said Alberta Ferretti, posing gamely with a young boy for photos in her store. “I started in this business with a small boutique, and my customers were my teachers,” she said.
Likewise, Antonio Marras enjoyed showing his artistic side in his boutique, putting his finishing touches to a series of Ts designed for the event by painting details on the spot. Diesel chief Renzo Rosso praised the buzz and activity in town. “It’s like a party,” he said, comparing the mood to Milan’s Salone del Mobile, the international furniture and design show held in April. Model Ashley Smith, who appears in Diesel’s ads for its new fragrance Loverdose, was in the store for the event.
Kiera Chaplin, who was photographed earlier this year by Karl Lagerfeld for his collection for Hogan, was spotted at the Via Montenapoleone store.
Meanwhile, queues snaked throughout the Golden Triangle shopping district in Paris, with a gridlock forming at the crossroads of Avenue Montaigne and Rue François 1er. At Dior, Leigh Lezark manned the decks as guests including actress Valerie Donzelli checked out the goods or queued to get their makeup done. "I'm a terrible shopper — I'm a man," laughed Antoine Arnault, pushing through the crowd at Louis Vuitton, a few doors down. "I tend to only go shopping when I'm about to pack my suitcases for vacation and realize that I have nothing to wear."
A few doors down, a bronzed Peter Dundas, clad in an eye-popping leopard jacket, cruised into the Pucci store with Ines Sastre on his arm. The designer said he'd been vacationing in Greece and Capri. Doing the rounds with presenter Mademoiselle Agnes and a TV crew, French Vogue editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt caused a commotion on Avenue Montaigne, where fans jostled to catch a glimpse at the posse of models trailing in her wake: Anja Rubik, Isabeli Fontana and Natasha Poly. Meanwhile, Courreges had parked a fleet of its Space Age electric cars outside its store, with go-go booted hostesses serving Champagne to guests. Hanging out by a rack of fluo vinyl jackets, actor Vincent Perez revealed that an exhibition of his photographs, currently on show in Vladivostock, will head to Moscow and Paris next. "The theme is key players of our time," he said, reeling off a list that included Carla Bruni, Bono, Kenzo Takada.
Ungaro in its flagship presented a selection of groovy vintage jewelry from its archives, designed by the late artist Oskar Gustin for the house in the Sixties and Seventies, while Giuseppe Zanotti had set up an ice cream parlor outside its boutique — shame about the rain. Jean Paul Gaultier arrived fashionably late for his own party, where he was greeted by his new boss, Manuel Puig. "I was stuck in fittings," he explained. "It's taking longer than expected."