Nothing replaces "the live experience, the frenzy, the expectation, the applause, the top models parading on the catwalk and the powerful music," fashion consultant Elisabetta Cavatorta told AFP.

Most anticipated is fashion powerhouse Gucci which is putting on a menswear only show for the first time in three years.

It will also be the first since artistic director Alessandro Michele's surprise departure in November.

New direction at Gucci?

With bold, colourful collections seeped in the 1970s, Michele provided a new lease on life after being tapped in 2015 to revive sales at the storied brand with the world-famous stripe logo in green and red.

While sales exploded by 44 per cent in 2018 for Kering's flagship brand, growth has lagged competitors in the last two years.

"It remains to be seen whether Alessandro Michele's departure initiates a change of direction for the fashion house," Cavatorta said.

As to who will take over the reins at Gucci, the fashion world awaits news of Michele's successor with bated breath.

Soaring revenues

Armani, Prada, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and Zegna are among the big labels set to unveil men's collections in the Italian fashion capital.

But there have been defections including Versace, which plans to show its men's and women's collections together in Los Angeles on 10 March.

Despite the war in Ukraine and the impact of the energy crisis on an energy-intensive fashion supply chain, sales of Italian fashion last year rose 16 per cent to 96.6 billion euros ($104.4 billion).

"This is the highest revenue in the last 20 years," said Carlo Capasa, president of the Italian Fashion Chamber, at a presentation ahead of the shows last month.