Milano, always a fashionable destination

By Sergio González | 11:15
Milan, Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo , Milan’s Cathedral and Vittorio Emanuele II Galleries

When talking about a place where fashion is as important as the air they breath, the question is, where shall we start? Don’t get us wrong, it’s not a shallow wish to shine above the rest when it comes to fashion but it’s a multi-million euro industry that fuels one of the most thriving cities in Italy, the second in Europe after Paris.

The fashion industry needs several factors to make it possible and a few more to remain a successful. In Paris, it boomed after the 1789 Revolution that ended the aristocratic clientele so the finest craftsmen who were forced to establish on their own. How did Milan achieve such success?

Getting the capital

Milan is at the centre of the prosperous Lombardia region and holds a strategic position as the threshold between the riches of Italy, France and Germany. Since the Romans took Midland from its Celtic founders two centuries BC, any idea, new invention or precious good in the continent actually had to go through Milan.

Nowadays, Milan is home to the largest trade fair on the continent -there are specialized fairs going on almost everyday- and information, the superb form of wealth, keeps flowing to the city thanks to Milan’s massive communication networks.

Fashionistas and design enthusiasts have their own special place to stay at nhow Milano, where they understand fashion and style  just like you do. Inspired by a fusion among fashion, original design, and elegance, the nhow Milano is located right in the heart of the vibrant neighborhood “Tortona e Navigli” which has been converted into one of the most fashionable and modern districts of the city center. The public areas of the nhow Milano are filled with surprises around every corner, from enticing photography studios, rotating art exhibitions and contemporary interior design, you are in for an experience you will never forget! Want to know more? You’ll have to wait for the second part of this post and for a very special interview on Friday! 

Good taste development 

Milan recovered from the darkness of the Middle Ages pretty soon, leading the Renaissance among other Italian modern cities. The ruling House of Sforza entitled their feud into a beacon of arts and tolerant humanism that dragged prominent architects, painters and sculptors that shaped Milan under the Graeco-Latin classic rules of beauty and proportions.

Hey you, young New York designer! Are you in desperate need for some inspiration for your next 2013-14 summer collection? Allow Milan’s classic Muses to pour some imagination into your urban soul. Doubt their power? Don’t you remember how Custo Barcelona became famous thanks to Venuses and Madonnas t-shirts? Go to Santa Maria delle Grazie to drink from the extremely famous Leonardo’s mural painting -a pop icon- The Last Supper.  

Once they had the money and the palate to discern good from excellent, also the most refined tailors, tanners, perfumers and jewelers of those times flourished inside Milan’s walls.

The fame of their luxury crafts became such that centuries later Lord Byron would ask his butler to go and buy some millaners, meaning lavish wares and fine goods. From the Italian city of Sibari comes a similar word. Do you know which one?

 First fashion democratization

Although already in use by the first patricians to settle in Mediolanum, silk was a very exclusive good until the 19th century, when the first seeds were smuggled out of China and spread all along British and Dutch colonies. Price dropped as a result and luxury textile manufacturing industry boomed in Milan in the mid-19th century.

The first department stores were opened by Bocconi brothers to their fellow citizens’ surprise –hey, they say they sell everything, from meat to hats– next to Il Duomo Cathedral in 1865. Nowadays, it’s called la Rinascente, still an up scale department store. Please, don’t miss a visit to its Food Market, allow the cook in you to be in a paradise of smells, colors and feelings.

From then on, Milan’s fashion industry began. University of Pennsylvania Professor Regina Lee Balszczyk published some interesting data in her book Producing Fashion. By the end of the 19th century, fashion in Milan was already an important issue, according to the number of fashion magazines available and the proportion of workers and brands of the fashion industry.

Developed from the Paris style, Milan design started to be clearly different, even from other Italian cities. It’s luxurious, of course, but always focused on simple amazing functionality and material quality, what also helped develop many other industries and products under the prestigious brand Designed in Milan

However it’s success, it would remain local

According to Regina’s findings, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that worldwide fashion eyes were set on Milan and Armani is to be credited for a good part of it, given his practicality and simple elegance.

Although born in a nearby village, Giorgio Armani has become Milan’s icon not only because of fashion achievements but his many contributions to the city. His support of arts and sicence granted him a very special recognition from city hall: Milan’s cops wear Armani uniforms

Trussardi, Moschino, Gianfranco Ferré or D&G are the most prominent names of the hundreds of ateliers that sew and design amazing pieces of art in Milan.

Florence, Venice and Rome soon saw their designers move to prosperous and fashion-friendly Milan because Prada, Miu Miu and Valentino knew where the already magnificent Italian creativity is at its top.

Photo Credit: Niki-Photography

Photo Credit: Dimitri B


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