MILAN - The who’s who of Italian fashion retakes the runway with the return of Milan women’s shows Wednesday, which organisers hope will boost an industry stifled by two years of coronavirus.

Back are the leggy models, the paparazzi and the Prosecco-fuelled parties as the international jet-set ready for live shows from the likes of Fendi, Giorgio Armani and Gucci, including a debut for Ferrari. This season, for the first time since Covid-19 erupted in Italy in February 2020, in-person shows with audiences will outnumber pre-taped shows and films streamed for homebound fashionistas. Those proved a pale substitute for the runway extravaganzas that are a major advertising weapon for luxury brands. Now, Milan is hoping for an event worthy of the return of hundreds of buyers, journalists and fashion executives to the city. Carlo Capasa, chairman of Italy’s national fashion chamber (CNMI), acknowledged during a press conference last week the “uncertainty” that still weighed over the sector. But the 58 physical shows and nine digital offerings for Fall/Winter 2022/2023 are “a strong sign of optimism and positivity, which infuses new momentum into the industry”, he said. “Everything is heading towards recovery in 2022.” Attracting the most attention among the ready-to-wear shows is Gucci, today’s “It” label, with its green and red stripe. It returns to the Milan calendar after a two-year absence. Designer Alessandro Michele is fresh from November’s “Gucci Love Parade” show that -- replete with satin, spangles and ostrich feathers -- turned Hollywood’s Walk of Fame into the flashiest of catwalks.