Friday, May 15, 2009
The News From Italy
Hot and humid today in Milan, but do we care? Hell no!
We're ensconced in a gorgeous room in the Baglioni Carlton Hotel-- this room chosen for us because it overlooks the famed shopping street Via Della Spiga. There's an elevator down the hall that leads to the hotel's private backdoor right onto this street of wonders. Location, location, location.
We have been staying in this hotel for years-- it's among the best in town for shoppers and luxury worshippers and also has an excellent concierge. As we checked in, he was ready with the hotel's shopping map in hand. Why give welcome kisses when you can hand out shopping maps?
There's a transportation strike, but so far taxi drivers have been very friendly about taking dogs not in carry-totes and so the four of us (dogs now referred to as The Ragazzi) have been on the prowl night and day and have this to report:
* new-fangled taxis do not have dashboard meters but instead an LCD screen within the rearview mirror;
* purple is the color of my true love's hair, or everything else this season-- my suede shoes from Bologna are the rage;
* you already know that colored patent leather is the accessory of choice this spring but perhaps you haven't seen trainers (running shoes, sneakers) with colored patent leather toes, ala Chanel;
* metallic threads in everything are strong for spring-- innovative looks include handbags of colored raffia with gold or silver metallic threads. On the street a few moments ago, I saw a young woman with a hobo handbag of silver lace. At one of those to-die-for shoe stores I saw ankle high booties with fold back cuffs lined with metallic (bronze! silver!) leather;
* harem pants go pirate style are the rage in spring-summer trousers for young women. They are deep and baggy in the crotch and tight in the calf;
* Pop-up stores are every where, mostly called Temporary Stores here-- possibly because the economic downturn has made available many storefronts. I was heart-broken a few years ago when the San Bablia Upim closed to give up its precious real estate to something or another-- who can remember? Now that space is sadly empty. There's another Upim on Corso Buenos Aires, but I do wish the San Bablia one had never vacated.
* Despite bad times, the thriving fashion leader seems to be Oviesse, one of my personal faves (they make mamma mia sizes too) that makes inexpensive trendy fashion. They've changed their logo to an OVS that looks like DVF and then they write the word 'industry' beneath that.
The existing stores are renovated and a brand new flagship has opened at San Bablia right smack near H&M and Zara and the rest of the mass market brands in town. There is even a boutique area called Baby Angel representing the Fiorucci designs new to the group. And speaking of Zara, they must be doing a great business. Next to their vavavroom flagship, there's a new mens store.
At the Oviese on Corso Buenos Aires (which I think is better than the one on San Bablia),I bought a purple linen dress (see above) for 49 euros which is not inexpensive, but it's a size, uh, lets just say over a size 50, making it very big and very droopy which is great in this weather. I will have it copied in Hanoi and in this humidity it will go to my business lunch. Who needs the Armani suit I brought with when I can wear Oviesse???
Uh-oh, Sarah is wearing Armani-- merde.
* The name of the Max Mara outlet store in the Galleria San Carlo (metro: San Bablia) has changed to InTrend. The merchandise is petty much the same-- some fair bargains (a great handbag for 168 E) but much seems expensive to me-- such as a plain old navy linen suit for 244E. Granted, regular retail would be much, much more but I didn't come to Italy to spend $350 on something boring. I'm happier at Oviesse.
* I have found the re-located BREK restaurant. For those who know it, Brek is a chain of low-cost cafeterias and there was once one on via Manzoni at the foot of via Della Spiga, peerfect for shoppers. That space has become a designer boutique (of course) and the new Brek is behind the Galleria San Bablia. Enter the gallery between Florsheim and Guess, pass Nespresso (no George Clooney, sorry) and you will dead end into Brek.
* While we flipped for the new Kiko makeup store in Bologna (via Independenzia, right near the Baglioni Grand Hotel) and love the idea of inexpensive makeup, the Madina Milano store has a sophisticated range at mid-range prices-- 14E for a cream eye shadow. This brand has closed all stores in the U.S. but has three stores in Milan, including Corso Venezia 23. The line has gone mineral and continues to be famous for the use of pigment. There are no other stores in Italy, making this a local hero worth seeking out;
* And yes, I have been boasting of my diet, but after last night's shopping stroll (that's called a business trip to us) we passed the Pizza Del Drago (via Agnello 17)on a back street right behind La Rina and couldn't resist. I had one of the best pizzas of my life, just shy of Naples. I think it's the fresh tomato sauce that does it. Since the cheese is the fattening part, I shared some of the goo with The Ragazzi. They love Italy...and I love my big, baggy dress.