Jun 21, 2011
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Italian brands energetic as Asia calls

Jun 21, 2011

June 21 - Style-king Giorgio Armani's label sashays down the catwalk at Milan men's fashion week on Tuesday, as Italian brands shake off the economic crisis thanks to Asia's insatiable appetite for luxury goods.

Models display creations as part of Emporio Armani Spring-Summer 2012 Menswear collection, in Milan (Photo: AFP, Giuseppe Cacace)

International powerhouse Prada will begin trading in Hong Kong on Friday in a highly anticipated climax to their initial public offering, launched after a jump in profit last year thanks to a boom in sales in its main market in Asia.

It is not the only fashion group marking a turn-around in the sector with an IPO to raise funds and boost its presence in the high-growth Far East market.

The Florentine label Salvatore Ferragamo said this week it will list up to 25 percent in an IPO on the Milan stock exchange later in June on the back of a push to expand into Greater China, where it already has over 90 points of sale.

Prada will begin trading in Hong Kong on Friday in a highly anticipated climax to their initial public offering (Photo:AFP, Olivier Morin)

Though the Prada group -- which encompasses Prada, Miu Miu, Church's and Car Shoe companies -- raised less than expected in its Hong Kong share sale this week, investors' disappointment was nowhere to be seen on the catwalk in Milan.

Founder Mario Prada's granddaughter, Miuccia, who took over the company at the end of the 1970s, presented an eccentric summer collection this weekend which reflected the new sense of optimism and energy in the sector.

The show playfully mixed golf and 70s flower power: models in golf shoes and hats sporting golf bags decorated with psychedelic flower patterns sauntered down a runway laid with artificial turf for the occasion.

Salvatore Ferragamo said this week it will list up to 25 percent in an IPO on the Milan stock exchange later in June (Photo: AFP, Olivier Morin)

Dashes of bright orange, pink and blue jazzed up beige and pastel-coloured caddie-style outfits, which were matched with sparkling bronze-coloured, vibrant green or yellow shoes.

The Ferragamo show was equally as self-assured, with a collection evoking a laidback artistic chic from the 1930s. Seductive dandies wearing vintage sunglasses and raffia panama hats posed in close-fitting linens and cottons.

Beige, cream and ivory trousers and shirts were lifted with pastel greys and greens and the occasional marine-style dark blue double-breasted jacket, and worn with a cream and brown satchel and brown, buckled loafers.

Gucci in its spring and summer collection looked to artists and dandies for inspiration (Photo: AFP, Giuseppe Cacace)

Fashion giant Gucci also looked to artists and dandies for inspiration, with a gentleman's spring and summer collection that designer Frida Giannini said evoked a man who was "flamboyant, sure of himself and eccentric."

Drain pipe trousers and close-fitting silver, black and checkered jackets were worn by glowering dark-haired models in bow ties sporting sleek black leather bags and patent shoes, also available in cream.

"I imagined a gentleman's club, filled with aristocrats, dandies and singers, noblemen and rock stars" Giannini said, showing off an eclectic range of jackets, from suit coats and biker jackets to hoodies and nylon raincoats.

Prince of Wales check dominated the daywear, with sharp tuxedo jackets worn with sensual silk evening pants. Eye-catching black and white graphics harking back to the 1980s were upstaged only by a fabulous platinum-mesh jacket.

Calvin Klein also went for a retro trend with a collection featuring boxy silhouettes with a sporty vibe. Billowing shorts in blocks of yellow and green were worn with crisp white tank tops and over-sized pastel-tinted sunglasses.

British designer Vivienne Westwood appeared to pay tribute to an Italian fashion industry fighting off the crisis with a nod to modern-day gladiators in her confident collection, which was run through with an air of rebellion.

Models with slicked back hair strutted down the catwalk in knee-length white socks or Romanesque sandels.

Flaming Greek torches and Roman warriors with rippling muscles were captured on t-shirts tucked into pink, white or blue shorts with a-symmetric fly buttons that were worn with belts that buckled off-centre and blue or red shoes.

By Gildas Le Roux

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