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When in Rome…do as the Romans do. When in Milan…go shopping. From Italian designer vintage to new Scandi urban wear and luxury bohemian in between, Italy’s fashion capital has a wealth of independent fashion boutiques to discover. Check out these key addresses before your next trip.
Frip proclaims itself as ‘small but savvy’ and Culture Trip agrees. Since 1994 Frip has been stocking innovative brands from Scandinavia, France and Britain, including Acne Studios, CMMN SWDN and Drõle de Monsieur. Think understated, minimalist, urban and occasionally avant garde. Frip is particularly good for shoes.
Frip, Corso di Porta Ticinese 16, Milan, Italy +39 02 832 1360
Biffi Boutique, which has grown to include several locations throughout the city, mixes classic names like Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Gucci with Golden Goose, Facetasm and Junya Watanabe. The store on the traditional shopping street, Corso Genova, was the first and remains the ‘flagship’ so to speak. The space is all marble, chrome and glass creating a calm (but not clinical) shopping environment that extends over two floors featuring both menswear and womenswear. Biffi expertly caters to both young and older fashionistas.
Biffi Boutiques, Corso Genova 6, Milan, Italy +39 02 8311 6052
10 Corso Como
A must visit for anyone travelling to Milan for its fashion and design heritage. This concept lifestyle store is the brainchild of the renowned publisher and editor Carla Sozzani; it is as glamorous and cool as she is. 10 Corso Como brings together fashion, food, art, design, publishing and music in a beautifully designed and very Italian setting. Sit under the canopy of vines in the courtyard café before perusing the bookshop, visiting an exhibition at the gallery or trying clothes by the most established or newest names in fashion. Instagram at the ready!
10 Corso Como, Corso Como, 10, Milan, Italy, +39 02 2901 3581
Chichi Meroni, a sixth-generation Milanese fashion designer and collector of design, founded L’Arabesque in 2010 to share her aesthetic vision and passion. Since then she has slowly expanded the space at Via Largo Augusto to become an aesthete’s empire: in addition to her signature line of menswear and womenswear and vintage collections, it now comprises a cafê, bookshop and mid-century furniture and design gallery. There is something very special about the feeling at L’Arabesque which is hard to pinpoint, somehow merging timeless elegance with contemporary sass. It’s definitely something to do with the plush grey carpet.
L’Arabesque, Largo Augusto 10, Milan, Italy +39 02 7634 1477
Inspired by her childhood in Tamil Nadu in India, designer Ingrun von Keudell (formerly at Ralph Lauran and a graduate of Parsons School of Design) has created the fashion and lifestyle label, Opaline. Von Keudell describes her collections as ‘Gipsy Smart’ – stunning Indian fabrics tailored in timeless, elegant shapes and luxurious bohemian but with a modernist or contemporary twist. In addition to beautiful dresses, blouses and robes, Opaline extends to accessories and homewares. For example, Keudell creates clutch bags, pouches and cushion covers in the brand’s signature fabrics, as well as gilded brass and fabric jewelry. Find it on Via Savona in the heart of the Tortona fashion district in the south-west of the city.
Opaline, Via Savona, 19/a, Milan, Italy +39 02 4538 8630
Memèm is a little haven of luxury bohemian style in Milan. The small white space has been lovingly decorated by the owner Emanuela Giusti – dried flowers hang on the walls and in vases, wooden stools topped with knitted cushions. It carries mostly mid-range French designers such as Ba & sh, Mesdemoiselles and Laurence Bras and Giusti seems to have a brilliant eye for fabrics and pattern, which is reflected in the collections. During summer you will find large straw hats, buttery camel leather bags and Swedish Hasbeens clogs. In winter things become a little more vampy, urban bohemian, perhaps: 70s-inspired midi-dresses, silver ankle boots and bold knits. Whatever the season, everything at Memeèn is equal parts elegant and cool.
Memèm, Via Savona 1, Milan, Italy +39 02 3675 3846
Cavalli e Nastri
Cavalli e Nastri, which has three locations in the city including one dedicated to menswear (see below), is the best designer vintage store in Milan, perhaps even Italy. A Valentino gown, a Dolce & Gabbana mini dress, a pure silk 1930s Japanese kimono, a Prada blazer – everything in the boudoir-esque store is so glamorous it will make you question why you don’t have any invitations to a ball, premiere or yacht holiday to justify a purchase.
Cavalli e Nastri Donna e Nuovo, Via Brera 2, Milan, Italy +39 02 7200 0449
Cavalli e Natri Donna, Via Gian Giacomo Mora 12, Milan, Italy +39 02 8940 9452
Cavalli e Nastri Uomo
The magical vintage eye of Cavalli e Nastri founder, Claudia Jesi, applied to men’s clothing and accessories: beautifully tailored suits and jackets from as early as the 1930s, eclectic pocket squares and ties, disco flairs and classic hats.
Cavalli e Nastri Uomo, Via Gian Giacomo Mora 3, Milan, Italy +39 02 49451174
A champion of bold patterns and fabrics, Massimo Piombo is known for striking contemporary adaptations of old-school tailoring and historic garments. The bizzare-esque boutique in Brera was the designer’s first stand-alone store and the five-storey space was created in collaboration with architect Ferruccio Laviani. The interior is a deep azure blue furnished with tropical plants and collectibles. Enter and get lost in the madness.
Massimo Piombo, Piazza S. Marco 4, Milan, Italy +39 02 7862 5718