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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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Robert Triefus, Giorgio Armani’s executive vice president for worldwide communications, also downplayed the situation.

“I don’t think we should overreact,” he said. “The Milan fashion shows and the Oscars, which are all about celebrating a year of cinema and are not directly related to fashion, can go on simultaneously.

“The Oscars are not for the fashion world, but for achievement in cinema. Many outfits on the red carpet were inspired by the runway collections, so what will happen now is that designers will probably be providing outfits simultaneously rather than consequentially,” he continued. “Most of the designers who work with the awards have large teams to help them who can be split between the Oscars and the fashion shows.”

Giambattista Valli, artistic director at Emanuel Ungaro, also sees no conflict, characterizing the runway and the red carpet as one and the same: “Whatever happens first.”

“I have never been interested in dressing many celebrities. I am happy to work with one who inspires me,” he added.

A Chanel spokeswoman said the earlier Oscar dates may actually benefit couture houses, since actresses now prefer couture and “the collection will be more fresh. As you know, celebrities want to wear new things.” The couture shows in Paris are slated for Jan. 20-23.

“It will take more work to follow both worlds — fashion and entertainment — at the same time, but we’ll make all the effort to make it work,” said a spokesman for Valentino.

Luisa Beccaria, a designer who has dressed the likes of Uma Thurman and Charlize Theron, among others, said she was thinking about showing her next collection in New York.

“It would probably be best to have the Milan shows after the Oscars, not before, since there is less and less time in-between collections,” she said. “Also, I’m hoping to personally go to the Oscars.”

The overlap first came to light as far back as June 2002, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it was moving up its annual awards show by one month in 2004 (it decides the date on a year-to-year basis, so it’s not certain what will happen in 2005). The change is designed to boost its television ratings and help it stand out against a glut of similar shows. At the time it was clear major dress jockeying would ensue.
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