Fashion vs. Red Carpet: Industry Frets as Milan Collides With ’04 Oscars

Next Feb. 29, the Oscars will go head to head with that other major style event, Milan fashion week. Here’s the latest on the conflict.

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Anna Wintour

Photo By WWD Staff

Donatella Versace

Photo By WWD Staff

MILAN — Leap year is looming with a potential setback for the fashion industry.

Come Feb. 29, the world’s biggest fashion show, the Oscars, is going head-to-head with that other major style event, Milan Fashion Week. As designers and editors grow increasingly alarmed about the fast-approaching conflict, some are calling for a change in the fashion show calendar —or for the Oscars to go back to March.

But the chances of either happening, at least next year, appear slim.

“The situation is a mess — our show is scheduled for the 29th,” a visibly upset Donatella Versace said backstage moments before her show on Saturday. “For us it presents a challenge because we send our most talented team of seamstresses to Los Angeles to take care of our clients, but we also need them here to work on the collection and backstage.

“Unless things change — and I’d be happy to support a date change of the Milan shows — we’ll set up monitors to broadcast the red-carpet arrivals at our post-show dinner.”

A Missoni spokeswoman echoed similar concerns.

“For us, it will be a big issue because we have a small team, so we’ll have to sit down and figure out what to do,” she said. “Normally, we bring the fall collection to L.A. but evidently that’s not possible this time, so we may need to put some looks together especially for the Oscars. Also, we bring our chief seamstress to alter the clothes on the stars and since we’re dealing with knitwear we need our experienced people. Last but not least, Margherita and/or Angela normally fly out to L.A. and they won’t be able to do that.”

Editors are also voicing concerns about the overlap.

“I think that, for once, everyone has to sit down and address the issue, otherwise everyone loses out,” Anna Wintour, editor in chief of American Vogue, said on the sidelines of the Milan shows last week. “The Academy Awards are the ultimate fashion show and, through no fault of the Italians, it’s a very unfortunate situation. I worry about the Italians because the Oscars create such a worldwide media blitz that it will overshadow their work. The Milan fashion shows should be pushed later because the Academy Awards aren’t changing.
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