Milan Fashion Week seeks renewal

MILAN (AP) - It was out with the old, and in with the new as Milan Fashion Week got under way Saturday.

Jil Sander is gone - again - and a team, rather than a single star, has filled her shoes. Adding to the sense of renewal, another young designer got his Milan debut. And the National Italian Fashion Chamber introduced its new CEO, a former advertising executive whose job is to both promote Milan's image as a fashion capital and help boost sales of Italian luxury fashion.

"I am here to facilitate growth for all the brands, not just the big ones," Jane Reeve said during an opening day lunch. "I want to foster teamwork."

The appointment of Reeve, a British citizen who has been living in Milan for more than 20 years, is part of the chamber's efforts to relaunch Italy's fashion system, which has suffered because of Italy's economic woes and growing competition from other fashion capitals. It has been the smaller fashion houses with less access to the export market that have suffered the most.

The chamber is forecasting a 5 percent increase in global sales because of increases in exports and signs that the domestic market is stabilizing.