We all know that they’re good at fashion in Milan. Home to Versace, Gucci and Prada, it’s one of the four fashion capitals of the world. But you won’t just spot style on the runway. Style leaks into every crevice of Milan – the city lives and breathes it. With Milan Fashion Week just around the corner, we’ve put together a quick guide to the most stylish places to shop, eat and drink in the city.
If you’re serious about shopping, you’ll have heard of La Quadrilateral della Moda or ‘Fashion Quadrilateral’. These are four of the fanciest and most fashionable streets in Milan, laid out in a cross shape and united by that big, beautiful beast of a building – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the oldest shopping centres in the world. Head to Via Montenapoleone, the most iconic of these streets, to explore Gucci, Versace and Prada flagship stores or stroll down Via Spiaggia to browse smaller luxury boutiques featuring works from young, emerging designers. Just don’t expect to come rolling home laden with shopping bags, this is for the hardcore only. Best kept for ogling and inspiration.
Thankfully, for those more strapped for cash but with an eye for loftier labels, there are a wealth of designer outlets around Milan, though you’ll have to commit to a train journey slightly out of town to get to them. Serravalle Designer Outlet is the largest outlet in Europe, with discounts of up to 60% off all the big names including Calvin Klein, Gucci and Michael Kors. Slightly less further afield is The Vicolungo Style Outlet, 150 designer stalls selling everything from clothing to homewares for up to 70% off the retail price. For the best bargains though, head to FoxTown, an hour’s train journey away, where you’ll find everything from Adidas to Burberry. If you’re keen to stay within the confines of the city walls, DMagazine offer up some top brands at discount prices, though you’ll have to dig deep to find them.
The Milanese are masters of the concept store – spaces designed for slow shopping, browsing, socialising and ogling. 10 Corso Como was one of the first of this kind – a glamorous building full of books, fashion, photography and design, as well as a stylish cafe, garden restaurant and a large exhibition space. For a more sensory shopping experience, pop into Giò Moretti, a beautiful boutique featuring clothing collections, books, music and many, many flowers. If interiors get you weak at the knees don’t miss Spazio Rossana Orlandi, a former tie factory turned unique and limited edition furniture concept store with an aim to promote young designers from around the world. Or for an augmented reality experience, why not head to Dirk Bikkembergs? The store is built over three floors and was designed to resemble a fantasy version of a football player’s luxury apartment.
Fashion moves fast in Milan and, for many, what was de rigueur last month, sadly won’t make the cut this month. Fortunately, this means Milan is flush with second hand shops and markets. Mania Vintage is a haven for handbag lovers, selling all the Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes a person could wish for, at a fraction of the original price. For high-end women’s collections you won’t find better than Cavalli e Nastri. If you’re looking for a top-notch flea market, you’re in luck. Mercatone dell’Antiquariato del Naviglio Grande is held on the last Sunday of every month, and this September it will cross over with Milan Fashion Week. It’s huge – 400 stalls worth of clothes, books, furniture and general bric-a-brac.
Poor old Milan has a bit of a reputation as a culinary deadzone amongst Italians, but the truth couldn’t be further from it. Milan does stylish cafe bars marvellously. Take Bar Lucce, the love child of film director Wes Anderson and Prada. Located in the Fondazione Prada, everything is whimsical, glossy and very colourful. Or, how about Pave, a cafe so achingly hip it describes it as a ‘living room with a laboratory’? Come here to pick up petite pastries filled with organic jams or for ‘the best cappuccino in town’. For something a little more upmarket, head to Pasticceria Cova. Founded in 1817, located just around the corner from Teatro Scala, you’ll find an eclectic mix of clientele here – from Maggie Smith type dowagers to the odd supermodel. For those who can’t bear the thought of a weekend passing without brunch, El Brellin, located in an 18th century Laundrette in Navigli offers an incredible brunch buffet, comprising cured meats, avocados and eggs, juices and a lot of smoked salmon.
They’ve perfected the art of the aperitivo in Milan; masters of the Martini and Aperol aficionados. For a drink with a view, you’ll be hard pressed to find better than Ceresio 7. Created by the dynamic designer duo behind DSquared2 this bar/restaurant is located on the roof of their headquarters, and offers beautifully prepared cocktails, a rooftop pool and a panoramic view of the city to rival that of the Duomo. Fancy feeling like a VIP? Bar Principe practically reeks of refined luxury – classic cocktails amongst sculpted crystal lamps and a custom-made banquet table. Vodka enthusiasts should head to Pravda, for the largest selection of vodka based cocktails in the city. Fancy sitting with the movers and shakers of Milan? Pop over to Il Bulgari at the Bulgari Hotel. Pull up a pew in the garden and enjoy a classic cocktail with the best (albeit most expensive) aperitivo in town. Whatever your tipple of choice, there’s plenty in Milan to quench your thirst.
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- Alessandra D'Almo