One of the most enjoyable aspects of Milan is its unique blend of fashion and art. Not many cities can offer a long list of artistic wonders, such as the Duomo and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, combined with luxury shopping and glamorous hedonistic pleasures.
Milan is one of the world’s fashion capitals, home to some of the most important designers (Armani, Prada and Versace, just to mention a few); it hosts the seasonal fashion weeks and has the most inspiring boutiques.
Fashion brands often have their own artistic foundations and greatly contribute to Milan’s cultural life. It is the case of the Fondazione Prada, with its exhibition space designed by Rem Koolhaas, now known as one of the most important sites for contemporary art, and its Wes Anderson-style café.
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Trussardi also has an art foundation: it organises exhibitions inside some of the city’s most beautiful buildings like Palazzo Litta and Palazzo Dugnani, allowing visitors to experience these hidden treasures.
During fashion weeks and sales campaigns, the city is literally buzzing: models queue outside agencies for castings, celebrities mingle with locals for an ‘aperitivo’ at the Martini Bar (Dolce & Gabbana’s cocktail bar), photographers at every street corner and lines of limousines in all the main streets. Popular hotels in town – such as the Grand Hotel et De Milan and the Straf – often throw dinner parties.
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Spectacular locations host fashion shows and are therefore open to the public, like Palazzo Serbelloni (which hosts Valentino and Alberta Ferretti) and the beautifully frescoed Sala delle Cariatidi (reserved for younger brands like Stella Jean and Lucio Vanotti).
The Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan’s national art gallery featuring masterpieces from Caravaggio, Raffaello and Hayez, also started hosting fashion shows in the last few years, specifically Giada and Trussardi.
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The Navigli neighborhood, set on the canal banks, is always bursting with life. Vintage shops, art ateliers and flea markets pair with high-end fashion boutiques like Antonioli, and traditional restaurants like the Pont de Ferr pair with unconventional bistros like Six (also a green design boutique and a gallery). Superstudio, located in Via Tortona, hosts White, Italy’s most important fashion fair. Walk a few steps ahead and find yourself chez Armani, who holds the reigns of his empire from his hq in Via Bergognone. Armani is also a club – Armani Privé – that organises the classiest fashion week parties, and a restaurant, Armani Nobu, serving beautifully presented sushi.
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The city centre, dominated by the spiers of the Duomo, is where you find most museums, such as the Museo del Novecento (dedicated to 20th century Italian art), Palazzo Morando and Palazzo Reale (which host temporary art and fashion exhibitions). Whilst admiring the city’s cultural and artistic heritage, you can enjoy a shopping spree in the Quadrilatero della Moda, also located in the city centre, where all the famous brands have their flagship stores. Don’t forget to visit also the more niche boutiques. Merry Go Round, Garden K and Frip are just a few of the many eccentric shops combining a beautiful fashion selection with an artsy vibe.
Make sure not to miss 10 Corso Como, Italy’s first-ever concept store, featuring luxury clothes, one of the best fashion and design bookstores in town, a charming café and an art gallery. The rooftop offers a breathtaking view on the liberty buildings of Brera and on the skyscrapers of the freshly built Porta Nuova district.
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Time to get ready for the evening: men can have a shave at Acqua di Parma or at Dolce & Gabbana’s barbershop, whilst ladies treat themselves at Bulgari spa, then dinner at the Società del Giardino (Milan’s best kept secret in terms of restaurants), before a night out in the city’s most infamous club: the Plastic.
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