Thanks to an array of bright young talents, Milan is enjoying a newfound vibrancy. Alexandra Marshall checks out the scene. Styled by Gianluca Longo. Photographed by Guido Taroni.
For romance and allure, Italy’s troika of museum cities, Venice, Rome and Florence, has always reigned supreme. Milan might be the country’s most cosmopolitan city, but with post-war facades as grey as its skies, it’s long been considered a place of drudgery: good for the luxury business – Prada, Giorgio Armani and Kartell are just a few of the mega firms based there – but stunted by a corporate, hidebound and hierarchical culture. Sure, the Fondazione Prada has facilitated a worthy dialogue with contemporary art since 1993, and the Salone del Mobile furniture fair has become as glamorous as Art Basel, with nearly 10 times as many visitors. But compared to cities like New York or London, Milan has traditionally been seen as unwelcoming to upstart creativity. In one of the world’s most important fashion capitals, new brands didn’t catch on much and young talent was largely absorbed by big houses or set up shop abroad. Travelling editors and buyers on the lookout for indie designers knew they could sleep in a little late during Milan fashion week.
But now, for what seems like the first time in decades, they are setting their alarms. Young fashion companies are thriving. Up-and-coming design firms and architects are cutting through Italian traditionalism with eclectic spaces like Luca Cipelletti’s massive, ongoing overhaul of the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, which layers new builds and contemporary renovation on top of historical structures from the 16th to 20th centuries. Brutalist and Fascist- era architecture have made a comeback, bringing international taste around to where Milan has been for decades. “Milan has the best architecture of the 20th century,” Cipelletti says. “It was so forward-looking at the time that it wasn’t really understood. Now it’s considered, like, wow.”