Milan fashion mobilises for Italy vote

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Milan (AFP) – Get out and vote to protect your rights, top Italian designers urged compatriots this week as the Milan shows coincided with elections predicted to see a far-right government take power in Rome.

From Donatella Versace to Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, there were calls for mobilization throughout Milan Fashion Week. Houses like Gucci and Fendi are actively helping their employees vote in Sunday’s general election.

“Go out and vote, these elections are so important for our country!” Versace said on Instagram ahead of her fashion house’s Friday show.

“Vote on September 25 to protect rights already acquired and think of progress and looking to the future,” she wrote.

“Never look back.”

Left activists fear the rise of far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, who leads opinion polls, will result in a step backwards for the right in majority-Catholic Italy.

Meloni and her main ally, Lega leader Matteo Salvini, stand up for traditional Catholic family values ​​and rail against what she calls “LGBT lobbies”.

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Meloni says she wouldn’t change the law legalizing abortion, but wants to give mothers “the choice” not to abort.

Piccioli, creative director at Valentino, published a long post on Instagram in defense of tolerance entitled “A man of the left”.

“Fear of the Consequences”

“It fills me with anger to think that there are people, people who might be afraid of the consequences of this election at this moment,” he wrote.

He called on young people in particular to vote because “we must not step back an inch from the rights we have and indeed the time has come to acquire new and fundamental rights”.

Influencer and fashion entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni has also called on her 28 million Instagram followers to defend LGBTQ and abortion rights.

While she accepted that many people might be unhappy about the choices offered, she cautioned that not voting “serves only to delegate to others what is for us to decide.”

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However, voting in elections is not easy for millions of Italians.

Postal voting is only available to expatriates, meaning they must physically return to their legal residence to cast a vote.

And designers in Milan are also involved here.

Giacomo, an employee at Rome-based Gucci, who did not give his last name, said the fashion giant had “completely reorganized work so we can go home to vote.”

Like the rest of his team, he is in Milan for the Spring/Summer 2023 catwalk shows, which run until Monday.

pay for the journey home

“We’ve organized a lot of things to get ready on Saturday – we’re on our knees but reassured that we can go to the vote,” he told AFP.

“Some of us will return to Milan on Sunday evening or Monday to continue work after the show and everything will be taken care of by Gucci.”

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From designers and stylists to production and marketing staff, about 80 percent of fashion house teams are mobilized to Milan for both the show and sales.

Serge Brunschwig, boss of Fendi, which had its show here on Wednesday, said its Milan showroom would close on election day on Sunday.

“We pay for the travel of our Italian teams so that they can go to their polling stations and return to Milan on Monday or Tuesday,” he said.

With voter turnout expected to be historically low, below 70 percent, many here feel they should if they can vote again.

“Some of us have to go to Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia and vote,” said Roberto Strino, 39, who works for Giorgio Armani, railing against the lack of a technological alternative.

“I will do it because the elections are very important and we have to oppose the extreme right.”

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