Making Out Milan
19th Oct 2008
Milan Yes, there's definitely a lull now between fashion seasons. But it won't be long before you're scooting off to Milan again to sit in the back row at Fendi with a ticket you managed to scam from someone in the PR department, right?
Or not. Let’s do and say we didn’t, with the right now on the what’s what in Milan, capisce?
for starters, location location location…
May we recommend the Grand Hotel et de Milan, located by Godiva and very close to Pucci. Ladies, need we say more. Boys, just follow. If you can score a room on the 5th floor, you might have a balcony overlooking some gray, chipped and pigeoned marble and an old gargoyle, which is of course très chic. The rule is: breakfast in the restaurant so you can people-watch, then meetings in the lobby so you can eavesdrop.
Another choice is the Hotel Spadari al Duomo, which is a popular haunt for designers and style-conscious folks on a smaller budget. It is very modern and situated steps away from much of Milan's central action.
The Chedi Milan is a part of Adrian Zecha's expanding empire and is located far away from the city center - at least 15 minutes. Is it worth the trip? The answer is yes. Counterpart to the Chedi Phuket (LEGENDARY), this hotel is serene and elegant, the sort of place you arrive at and never want to leave. Ever. The knowledgeable staff are able to provide instant shopping access, and more industry insiders are staying here as the 'secret escape' when in Milan. As for the Bulgari Hotel, save it for your events or a drink in the gardens, as the room prices are tough to justify.
Go anywhere. It’s all good. In a hurry? Leave time between meetings, this is not Pizza Express. If you really must, try Alle langhe on Corzo Como. It’s an insider favorite.
The food is, um, Italian. Our favorite is Giacamo, which is still family run and the place to have your ultimate fashion insider moment. We won't give you the address because people will kill.
Skip the dance parties—they are so... young. Unless of course, you like to shake your moneymaker, and then, by all means. Yes, the entire fashion industry is about 16, which means hitting Alcatraz for all-night dancing only works if you look great in: a. the hooded tracksuit with Gucci suit jacket and flip-flops; ripped muscle-shirt and headband; or b., a bikini.
Should you refuse to wear any of those combinations at night, in public, try the sake mojitos at Armani/Nobu. It’s a bit more, you know. For those of you who need something in the middle, try Ventaglio Cafe. Ricci is also back open after an extensive renovation at the Piazza de Publica and is again a popular spot.
A charming little brasserie is La Libra on via Palermo in the Brera disctrict. Its on the back streets, and the old man who runs the place has the best little suits and matching waistcoats with a huge moustache. This area is pedestrianizing with a lot of upgrades, and the chic spot for weekend dining here is called Radetsky. It's also fairly popular at night.
Gold, a venture from Domenico and Stefano, is still popular, but we would recommend paying a visit instead to the Dolce & Gabbana Salon. They have an amazing grooming facility for guys run by Giovanni Pappalardo. He's a "your kinda guy", guy. Giovanni was once voted the top barber in Sicily and was scouted by D&G to open their eponymous men's salon. He will dunk you head-first into a bowl of streaming water then whip out the NON-ELECTRIC razors and set to work.
If you don’t speak Italian, may we suggest bringing a friend. It’s all very godfather-esque, fighting for air, razors everywhere, but in the end turns out to be this long-lost masculine moment of grooming. You’ll want to fly back every four weeks, just for the haircut, guaranteed. Honestly, you feel like a new man.
Girls? You know what to do, and it starts with Via Monte Napoleone.
Milan is wonderful, but have you been to the Lake District? It’s only an hour north, and it’s quite beautiful. It features a big lake, great tavernas and restaurants dotted here and there, oozing with yummy nostalgia. Look for a lake and snowcapped mountain heading north from Milan and get off the main road; you can’t miss it. You know, explore. Like in those SUV ads.
Should you be in the mood for something to sit on, head straight over to Cappellini. Yes, urban legends do come true, and there is a discount Cappellini store. It is also near the Cappellini factory, on the road to Lake Como in Arosio just north of Milan. How typical, right? Lake Como is where the Versace's live. Anyway, the Cappellini people are very nice and will even ship your new couch direct to the Hamptons for you, an important lesson in hard times.
Extracappellini, the discount store of Cappellini, Via Marconi, 35, Arosio, phone: 39-031-759111.
Also worth checking out: the Kartell warehouse, the place for those translucent Louis XV chairs that Philippe Starck redid.If you are into the fashion side of shopping, its a must to hop the southbound train to Montevarchi, home of Milan's discount outlets. This is the location of the elusive Prada factory, with discounts of 50-80% on merchandise that has overrun or been returned from their global network of stores. Gucci has a similar facility nearby in a complex with lesser brands.
arrive and depart with grace…
It’s a long drive in from the airport to Milan, and a taxi will cost you a bomb. For the same money, Pier will slide you into a big fat Benz and teach you how to say “no thanks, I’m married” in Italian.
Call Pier Capra at ALA Limousine, +39-02-86450010 and at Malpensa Airport: +39-02-74867300.
They say Milan is grey and the beauty is always hidden, in the courtyards and inner sanctums where things are not shown. You need to be in with the right friends to experience this side of the city. It's not true that there is nothing to talk about except fashion and food. But... Yes, you still like D2, its too bad about Miss Sixty going under, and Dior is hot and you could wear it…if only you could wear it.
Does that make sense? Of course not. Va bene. Remember, if you can’t get behind those doors, you’re "a department store buyer from Osaka". Works every time.