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Milan employs fashion to preserve architectural heritage

ROME (Xinhua) – Python-skinned mannequins dwindle their hips under the majestic Arc of Peace, bringing glamour and money to Milan's decadent monuments.

The local authorities have launched an innovative strategy aimed at preserving the city's architectural and cultural heritage by involving fashion designers in the fund-raising operations.

The new strategy was inaugurated on Monday, when world-famous stylist Roberto Cavalli displayed his spring-summer collection on a catwalk passing underneath the Arc of Peace, one of Milan's imperial monuments built by the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and symbol of the city.

Cavalli has pledged to donate some 100,000 euros for the completion of the monument's restoration thanks to the global fame his catwalks and creations enjoy.

The event, part of Milan's fashion week that kicked off on Wednesday, celebrated Cavalli's 40-year haute couture career and stood as a personal commitment of the stylist, who adhered to the call launched by the local culture councilor Massimiliano Finazzer Flory and directed to Milan's high-society to contribute in boosting the social location of the city's monuments and sites.

Italy's most popular designer has thus decided to support the authorities' appeal in favor of "a mobilization of all creative artists" for the maintenance of the historical center.

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At the opening of the partly restyled Arc of Peace in July, Flory urged entrepreneurs and Milan's top personalities to stage here social events aimed at increasing the appeal of the location and recovering it to a greater public use after "too many years of abandon and neglect."

Despite an initial remodeling, the Arc of Peace today is still in need of a complete architectural recovery that may shield it against all acts of vandalism and abusive occupations by homeless people.

"I really want to help Milan and I am honored of contributing to the restyle of this beautiful historical site," said Cavalli, underling that "art has always played a central role in my life, after all I started my creative work as a painter."

For the councilor Flory, it's a winning alliance. "If fashion anticipates tendencies, dreams and desires of women and men it is therefore inevitable for it to meet with history, art and culture," he argued, adding that both haute couture and historical monuments represented the core of the Made-in-Italy universe which must be supported.

Milan, however, is not alone in its new crusade. Other Italian cities, aware that public resources alone are not sufficient, are looking for alternative ways to finance the maintenance of their architectural and artistic heritage.

Venice, for example, rents facades of historical buildings in need of restyle as advertisement spots to big luxury firms, while Rome has recently launched an international competition aimed at selecting private sponsors for the 30-million-euro restoration project of the Colosseum.   

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