Utter extravagance is the best two words to describe Milan Fashion Week. This weeklong event is the forum where fashion houses display their collections for the upcoming season. It attracts the highest-end designers, A-List celebrities and only the top supermodels grace the runways. The global economic crisis did not appear apparent although some fashion houses did scale back the size of their shows, and some after-party and celebrity swag treatments appeared less excessive.
Many fashion styles mimicked those popular during the recession of the early 1980’s. Coincidence or not, it appears as if tough economic conditions cause both genders to dress in a certain style, like the sharp-shouldered blazers reminiscent of the 1980’s by the trailblazer Versace. Designers expressed interest in cutting retail prices to maintain their consumer base, although how they actually carry this out is yet to be seen. It is clear from the spectator’s reactions that the luxury good market is far from over. Designers are adapting their styles, creating more subdued structures and adopting a “Civilization to Comfort,” look to adhere to requests to be low-key. Italian leader Prada produced her line based on “how creativity may be influenced by the recession.”
Giorgio Armani opened his new flagship store in New York City on February 17th, 2009 amidst the economic crisis. The 43,000 square-foot store designed by the famous architect Fuksas, to be “a huge, fluid space- all shiny black floors, matte black ceilings, and crisp white walls and display cases.” When asked why Armani debuted his costly and stunning store during this economic downturn he replied “I believe in New York, and I think this is just a phase,” although he wisely chose to forgo the lavish fashion show and dinner party originally planned. “I still don’t have an idea of how much the store did cost because my main goal was to create a beautiful store.” This shows that either Armani’s attitude has not been affected by the recession, or he has deep pockets, and willing to take a market risk, even if his clothing sales are down.
The RVP of the high-end fashion industry is selection and experience. High prices are charged based on the selection of designer’s exclusive styles, fabrics and detailing. As profiled in the Armani store, the shopping experience is integral to the shopper; therefore design concept, brand and inclusively sleek venues are crafted to create a unique and exciting atmosphere.
I believe that even though many designers have been adjusting plans for a more scaled-down fashion week to showcase their scaled-downed designs, frugality is the new catchphrase. More cost cuts and less “show” must be done to adapt to this recession. The global financial meltdown originating on Wall Street has caused a rapid decline from state to state, and now country to country. The time is now to trim the costs.