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Insider: Milan, Straight From the Hippest


  • L'Officina delle Fate(5 Piazza Sant'Erasmo; 39-02/2906-0969) is a rare trove for exotic vintage pieces and carefully preserved wedding dresses. Owner Trishna Guazzo combs the closets of Italy's antiques dealers and seniors for finds from the early 1900's to the 70's.



  • Buzz at the gate of Il Nuovo Guardaroba (5 Via Privata Asti; 39-02/4800-1678) for admission to racks of color-coded classics from signoras who lunch — all at under $145.




    The former industrial zone near the canals around Via Savona, Via Tortona, and Via Bergognone has become the new hub of fashion, advertising, and design. Models first began drifting through what's been called the Via Savona area about 20 years ago, when the photography space Superstudio opened in an abandoned train depot. Its latest offshoot is Superstudio Più (27 Via Tortona; 39-02/422-501), whose 172,000 square feet will contain areas for design and runway shows, plus a TV studio. Across the road, London architect David Chipperfield is transforming the former Ansaldo auto-part factories into the City of Cultures Museum, due to open next year with 3,000 pieces of global art. The newest kid on the block is none other than Giorgio Armani, who, with Japanese architect Tadao Ando, is converting an old Nestlé factory into a fashion showroom and a theater for special events.





    • Chopstick-wielding designers such as Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana sample sushi at the neo-Japanese Kisho(12 Via Morosini; 39-02/5501-0058; dinner for two $72). It's run by Kazuteru and Shihoko Yonemura, former managers at the classic Grand Hotel Villa d'Este in Como. If you prefer your seafood cooked — as Giorgio Armani does — choose the grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves.



    • The discreet, wood-paneled Bice(12 Via Borgospesso; 39-02/7600-2572; dinner for two à) is where Donatella Versace takes VIP guests after the shows. Founded in 1926, it has a traditional Tuscan-Milanese menu that's a favorite with the swank crowd.



    • When Bice is booked, head for Ristorante Al Girarrosto da Cesarina(31 Corso Venezia; 39-02/7600-0481; dinner for two à), another Tuscan-Milanese establishment, run by the Michi family since 1943. Its standout dessert (but not for the models who sometimes make an appearance): a melting, hazelnut semifreddo with lashings of chocolate-hazelnut cream.



    • Shambala(337 Via Ripamonti; 39-02/552-0194; dinner for two $72) serves Asian fusion in an Italian farmhouse with Balinese furniture, orange walls, and a statue of Buddha in the brick-walled garden. Though its hot Brazilian-Japanese chef recently left, advance bookings are still essential.



    • Fed up with fashion?Take a table at L'Ape Piera (11 Via Lodovico il Moro; 39-02/8912-6060; dinner for two $77), a food-lover's paradise where chefs Nicola Grassi and Fabrizio Ferrara put a contemporary spin on traditional Italian cuisine in dishes such as tempura-fried zucchini flowers splashed with yogurt sauce and cucumber petals.





    GIFT Last spring, the leather-and-canvas bowling bags given away by Prada to guests at the women's-wear collections became the hit of the season. Fashion insiders can't wait to see what will be all the rage next spring.

    LUNCH Regulars at Jungle Juice (1 Via Dogana; 39-02/8699-6809) include the Versace, Armani, and Mila Schön office staffs; fresh vegetable soups, fruit salads, and smoothies are on the menu.

    BOOK For the inside scoop on the murder of Maurizio Gucci — yes, that Gucci — get engrossed in The House of Gucci (William Morrow, $26) by Sara Gay Forden, the former Milan bureau chief of Fairchild's Women's Wear Daily. "A great read," says Tom Ford.

    FLOWERS Florist Raimondo Bianchi (7 Via Montebello; 39-02/655-5108) helps Milan's fashion set say it with style, using single orchids, arum lilies, or tree branches.

    DRY CLEANERS Red wine on your Prada frock?Don't panic — head for Alberti (40 Via Visconti di Modrone; 39-02/7600-0816), whose clients include Ferré and Dolce & Gabbana.

    GYM Body- (and status-) conscious fashion mavens make for Palestra Industria (7 Via Gaspare Bugatti; 39-02/5818-6255), the new workout studio owned by La Scala ballerina Alessandra Ferri.





    • The just-opened bar Ragoo(140 Viale Monza; 39-02/2600-5157) isn't a fashion hot spot yet. But its décor — a kitschy pastiche of furry seven-ties barstools and sixties amoeba-shaped lights — is already appreciated by designers and artsy types.



    • Century-old Pasticceria Ricci(27 Piazza della Repubblica; 39-02/6698-2536) is a traditional bakery and café that turns into a gay bar after 8 p.m. Boy George and other air-kissing fashion darlings have been known to pop in.



    • Dress to kill if you want to get past the doormen at Casablanca (14 Corso Como; 39-02/6269-0186), where the chic wine, dine, and boogie in a neo-Colonial bar and tented garden.






    • Donatella Versace and Naomi Campbell book with celebrated coiffeur Mario Rosin (at Aldo Coppola, 110 Corso Garibaldi; 39-02/2900-5766) when their tresses need a trim.
    • Spaghetti-straight blowouts are a no-no at Pier Giuseppe Moroni(26 Via San Pietro all'Orto; 39-02/7600-3419), whose natural styles are adored by Alberta Ferretti and Jil Sander.



    • Barber Franco Bompieri has been providing warm shaves and old-fashioned cuts at Antica Barbieria Colla (3 Via Morone; 39-02/874-312) for more than 50 years. Clients include Gianfranco Ferré and Roberto Benigni (who likes his split ends burned with a candle). On display: soap and a shaving brush that belonged to Puccini, a customer when the shop opened in 1904.



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