Being an Italian fashionista writing on a cutting-edge Austrian magazine does not give me much of credibility when it comes to celebrating Milano, the place where I live.
But maybe if drops of my childhood leaked out like in a spy movie you may get to know that I actually was born as nothing like a Milanese, raised in a German-speaking little bit of Italy and that my friends’ names back at the time were more likely to be Hans and Hubsi rather than Peppino or Gianni.
So I hope the ones that are still reading these lines will trust me when i say that Milano is in the very middle of a rebirth process.
It took quite a bit, after losing every single competition for something like twenty years: the flag of beauty had always been in the hands of Rome, the one of romanticism in Venice. Style experimentations had run over the Channel back to the old, no-more-swinging London, and all productions were to take place in New York. Not to mention scouting areas: no hope for the too short and voluptuous Italian women with their long, dark, shining hair ready to make every husband’s head spin round but too Italian to be on a cover of a magazine.
But Milano is no place for time wasters and, once stated that the golden age was gone with the wind the whole town rolled sleeves up ready to show the ropes!
It was the end of the ’90 when, as a young receptionist, I first faced the Duomo: grey, old, severe church that supervised the crumbles of the ’80 knowing there was more to come.
Revolution started from the air: not only the one your breath but the air you feel as a sparkling, tickling energy around you.
Step one: cleaning. Like when you wake up after a long party and you find the place is a mess, you know that’s the first thing to do. Clean the streets, the building’s facades, public parks and metro stations.
Then make everything look beautiful. And listen to the people’s requests. Give them gardens for children and spaces for dogs, bike lanes and new means of transport. Not only the world famous via Montenapoleone with its fancy shops! Find a beauty for each corner of the city: design district where an old, abandoned rail station was, music and drinks on the sides of the canal where Leonardo designed the river locks, new and attractive affordable luxury shops on the way to the very center, and build the future where crumbles of the past had been sitting for over fifty years.
There you get a new skyline and a new energy. There you see young people willing to come and see, spend time and get to know the place that, from the middle of nowhere, has made its way in history.
Could fashion system not feel and be part of this? Impossible! In spite of politics that still consider an industry employing some hundreds of thousands of people as a moody toy for few lucky party rats, the fashion industry in Italy never gave up.
Attention to quality and that magic mix of the sense of beauty and need for practical cannot be replaced by a low-cost \ long distance production. Because all ingredients of the cocktail were already there, we saw within few years the blooming of new (and old) flowers: Gucci, under the wild romantic hands of Alessandro Michele, Versace with the blessing of unforgettable Gianni still inspiring the designs of Donatella.
So new, fresh voices such as Fausto Puglisi or the rocky, German-accented creations of Philipp Plein, whose parties during fashion week have already become a legend.
And all these have found a fertile ground where routes could be placed for a solid, generous tree: Milano.
So you may wonder if this first column was meant to be some sort of an advertising spot for my city. No, my friends.
It is a way to get to know each other right before we get our hands dirty in fashion mud, which -for as charming as it may be- is just a drop of the whole lake. But most of all it is a way to welcome you into my world as heartfully as I have been welcomed in yours.
Hoping to share and enjoy more and more in the future to come.
Text / Matteo Osso
Milano Photographs / Stefan Kokovic
Portrait / Private Archive