Getting Inside Milan Fashion Week
What happens when your cousin's tuxedo fitting at Dolce & Gabbana happens to coincide with Milan Fashion Week? Guest writer Marina Younan takes us inside the Italian city - and tells how she managed to gain entry into the exclusive fashion event in 2016.
by Marina Younan
They say that style is a global language, but that doesn’t mean all places are equal when it comes to fashion. When we think of lavish shopping destinations, we think Milan, London, Paris and New York. These four cities have made a name for themselves thanks to their rich histories, iconic fashion houses and annual editions of fashion weeks.
For decades, Milan has been considered the gateway to the world of fashion. Even though the capital of Italy is Rome, Milan is the center of fashion and design. In every street, in every corner the city breathes style and luxury. And I was on a plane from Cairo heading there. My parents and I were traveling with my cousin, a groom to be going for his last fitting of his made-to-measure suit. Since special moments are to be cherished, my cousin decided to attend the most important event in his life in a tailored tuxedo that matches his style and personality. Though I didn’t know it at the time, our trip happened to coincide with Milan Fashion week, which takes place every September.
We go straight from Malpensa airport to Via Monte Napoleone, where we will be spending the next four days. The fresh morning air fills my lungs as we drive to our hotel located right behind the magnificent Duomo, one of the largest churches in the world. The architecture of the cathedral, which sits in the most central location in Milan and is a popular touristic heritage site people come from all over the world to admire, is awe-inspiring, the fascinating details taking you back in time to the Roman Empire.
Via Monte Napoleone, the most popular fashion street in Milan, known as the home of Italian designers and high-end boutiques comprises narrow side streets branching off to the Milan fashion district known as the Quadrilatero della moda. It is a pedestrian street perfect for strolling, and even if you have no intention of shopping, you can’t help being drawn to the store façades. Italian design houses such as Gucci, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Valentino sit alongside international clothing brands the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Tom Ford, and countless restaurants and cafés. The strong aroma of fresh coffee acts as a map and guides you to the nearest café.
The city, thronging and bustling, is a live edition of Vogue, and exudes elegance and sophistication from every pore. The façades of the stores are extravagant, fashion runways take over the streets and stores offer complimentary refreshments and canapés to onlookers, themselves dressed in the latest trends. And if Milan is a fashion capital, then its citizens are nothing short of fashion ambassadors showcasing elegance, hot trends and street styles.
Mesmerized by it all, I bump into a lady dressed in an evening gown who is running through the narrow streets. I am dead curious to know what’s going on, so I ask the first guy I see and he informs me in a delicate English-Italian accent that it’s the first day of the Spring/Summer Fashion Week.
Fashion Week! I must be dreaming! The semi-annual event takes place in each of the four fashion capitals where fashion designers and high-end brands display their latest collections in runway shows — and here I was in Milan to witness the series of fashion shows attended by celebrities, models, fashion freaks, photographers and media personalities. Aside from the standard studios and showrooms, many of Milan’s fashion shows are held at historic, outdoor landmarks to offer more space, and appreciation of the city’s history.
I am determined to take in at least one of the shows, but first I need to head to Via Della Spiga, a narrow pedestrian street branching from Via Monte Napoleone, for my cousin’s final fitting. We walk through the doors of luxury Milanese fashion house Dolce & Gabbana’s atelier, founded in 1985 by Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. “Benvenuto Sposo!” we are greeted enthusiastically upon our arrival. The greeting is somewhat similar to the French “Bienvenue spouse” and means, “Welcome groom.” We are offered chilled flute glasses of champagne as a welcome drink and are then invited to relax in a sumptuous living room area furnished with a brown velvet sofa and a black mirror coffee table that is lit from within.
My head turns toward the fitting room done up in gray flannel drapery, antique bronze mirrors and a brown leather wood bench into which my cousin disappears behind the tailor. A bald man in his late sixties with a thin moustache, the tailor is stylishly dressed in a gray suit with vest that adds elegance and a refined touch to the whole experience.[caption id="attachment_522703" align="alignnone" width="620"] The tailor at Dolce & Gabbana in Milan.[/caption]
My cousin’s dream suit is a black slim-fit tuxedo, and he was already done with choosing the fabrics. This being his final fitting we are all excited to see his dream come true and anxiously await his arrival. He walks out in the spectacularly cut tux, complemented by a classic black bow tie, satin black waistband, and a straight folded white pocket kerchief. It is a touching moment … the suit is decadent and fits perfectly, and totally matches his style. The suit is whisked off to be wrapped up, and we leave Dolce & Gabbana greatly satisfied with our purchase.
It is now time to head to my favorite brand Versace, do some shopping, and find an evening gown for my cousin’s wedding. No girl on earth can go wrong with a Versace, dress and luckily I spot a gown perfect for the upcoming occasion. Paying for my purchase, I begin chitchatting with a salesgirl, telling her how eager I am to attend one of the fashion shows. The girl replies with a wide smile that because we are regular customers, she’s got me covered and has an invitation to a Versace fashion show. It was probably the best news I have ever heard.
Piazza VI Febbraio is the venue in which the Versace Fashion Show is to be held. Due to Versace’s popularity, it contributes yearly in fashion weeks and has its beloved fans. Donatella Versace has taken the same path as her father, and is known for her creativity, always seeking perfection, and her ability to produce the most stylish designs and bring them come to life. She’s dressed an endless number of today’s celebrities and top models such as Kendall Jenner, Kate Hudson, Gigi Hadid, Taylor Swift and many more.
I go with the trend and put on a Versace cocktail dress and high heels and head to the show. I could hear my heartbeat popping with excitement as I wait in the queue. After I present my invitation, I am seated in the hall and offered a refreshing welcome drink. These Italians are remarkably good hosts! While waiting for the show to start I can’t help but take some selfies and cherish a lifetime experience. The show starts with a song dedicated to women around the world. The Spring/Summer 2016 collection is a fashion alarm to all women, empowering them with an army-like Versace vibe. The finale is breathtaking as Donatella appears on stage thanking her dedicated clients for their support. I feel special.
And the cherry on top? I manage to slip in and get my photo taken with top fashion blogger Negin Mirsalehi.[caption id="attachment_522705" align="alignnone" width="620"] The author (right) with top blogger Negin Mirsalehi.[/caption]