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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“Designers who don’t do couture will be particularly hurt because, by then, these collections will be old hat,” she added, referring to the spring-summer 2004 designs parading down the catwalks last week.

Ingrid Sischy, editor in chief of Interview magazine, also didn’t mince words: “It’s the worst case of planning I’ve ever heard of because these two worlds need each other so much.”

She said she hadn’t yet figured out how she would straddle the events, but suggested it would be in the fashion industry’s best interests to adjust its schedule. “The people who will suffer the most are the designers,” said Sischy. “It doesn’t give them a chance to focus fully on both events, which are equally crucial.”

However, it’s no small task to reconfigure the international fashion calendar.

Mario Boselli, president of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, said the Milan fashion shows Feb. 22 to March 1 coincide with other important trade events in the city, and venues were scheduled years ago.

“We defined this calendar on Sept. 14, 2001, and we don’t do anything on our own,” he said. “We have to check with organizers in New York, London, Paris and with our Italian designers, so the decision is not only ours.”

Didier Grumbach, head of the Chambre Syndicale in Paris, said there is “no chance” of changing his fashion week, slated for March 2-10, short of a “crisis.” But he noted that he’s heard no major outcry from French designers, who tend to dress stars in couture or custom-made dresses anyway.

“For most of the designers showing in Paris, Milan or London, [the Oscars] are not primordial,” he said. “The ready-to-wear calendar is not only a question of image. It’s an industrial necessity for a lot of companies.”

Reached on Monday, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce said they usually don’t attend the Oscars and seemed unfazed by the date dilemma. “We don’t really see it as a conflict that would effect us in deep way,” Gabbana said, noting that their L.A. press office could handle any requests.
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