Mansi Lavsi

VM&RD - - CONTENTS - This for me is mem­o­ries re­lived!

As a tourist on the Ital­ian ground, the cityscape blended with ar­chi­tec­tural marvels gave me the love-struck eyes. Amidst the awe of be­ing in a beau­ti­ful new coun­try, the re­tail cul­ture in­fused in the ur­ban land­scape broad­ened my per­cep­tion of how a city vouches for its beauty. 4 Ital­ian cities, 4 re­tail ex­pe­ri­ences - each dis­tinct from the other. The same shops across dif­fer­ent cities ren­der a dif­fer­ent emo­tion for the shop­per. The lo­cal flavours of the city came through with the co­he­sive blend of re­tail shops and the city’s ar­chi­tec­ture.

Let me be­gin with Rome. The home of the Pope has an evolved re­tail sce­nario and stands cul­tur­ally jus­ti­fied as the cap­i­tal of the coun­try. With a his­tor­i­cal back­ground, its ac­cents of cul­tur­ally rich ar­chi­tec­ture re­flect in all facets of the cityscape -- even re­tail. It blends in the de­sign lan­guage of the Ro­man city. Sit­ting on the Span­ish Steps, the Pi­azza di Spagna with its line of luxury shops ren­ders the pre­mium feel of the space. A spec­tac­u­lar view of the Via Con­dotti, the most ex­pen­sive street of Rome, man­i­fests from the top of the Span­ish Steps. The col­lage of the shops against the back­drop of the city’s ar­chi­tec­ture is the essence of the beauty. The Fendi store near Via Del Corso is a per­fect ex­am­ple of luxury re­tail wo­ven into cul­tur­ally in­spired ar­chi­tec­ture. Big ticket brands and lo­cal bou­tiques co­ex­ist on the same street. Tatie, a lo­cal boutique, and La Ri­nascente, a huge luxury depart­ment store of Ital­ian ori­gin, dwell on the same street and have en­tirely dif­fer­ent VM ap­proaches. The con­sis­tent lan­guage of the ar­chi­tec­tural shell is what binds them and pred­i­cates their be­long­ing to the city of Rome. Mov­ing on to the land of Dante, a whole new world un­folds which we know as Florence. The Pi­azza Della Repub­blica, one of the many squares in Florence, is what I would like to call a lo­cal ver­sion of a mall. Clus­tered restau­rants, ac­tiv­i­ties for kids, ex­pan­sive open space as­sert­ing its pride and names like Zara, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors (and the list goes on!) on the pe­riph­ery, pretty much sum up the na­ture of the place. The gi­gan­tic arch stamps for the his­tor­i­cal ar­chi­tec­ture dic­tated in the space. An in­ter­est­ing fea­ture to note is the lo­cal leather stalls in this Pi­azza which not only speak of the ge­n­e­sis of Florence but sur­pris­ingly co-ex­ist with the luxury at­mos­phere around as well. The Ponte Vech­hio bridge is a sparkling street with gold jew­ellery shops lined up through­out. Walk­ing that bridge is a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence in it­self, more so from the VM stand­point. The VM seems not so much about aes­thet­i­cally ap­peal­ing dis­plays, but to dis­play as much as pos­si­ble and thereby com­pete with the neigh­bour. Such an at­ti­tude glares in your face with the sparkle of gold. Con­sid­er­ing it is a ma­jor tourist place, I guess this ap­proach works in their favour. Next des­ti­na­tion: The Mecca of the re­tail world -- Mi­lan. The Gal­le­ria Vit­to­rio Emanuele

is one of the old­est malls in the his­tory of the world. The Gal­le­ria was an im­por­tant move to­wards the glazed en­closed mod­ern mall’s evo­lu­tion. The na­ture of the space is a hand­shake between the mall ar­chi­tec­ture ide­ol­ogy and a high street. Two glass-vaulted ar­cades in­ter­sect at an oc­tagon topped with a dome. The rich ar­chi­tec­ture de­mands the shops to em­body luxury - the def­i­ni­tion of Ital­ian re­tail. The Quadri­latero d’Oro, a quad­ran­gle of luxury streets, is Mi­lan’s claim to fame as a luxury des­ti­na­tion with all big names ban­nered, in­ter­na­tional and Ital­ian. It would be hard to take one’s eyes off the win­dow dis­plays there. The Ver­sace win­dow and the Zara cen­tral dis­play steal the show. The city of water­ways Venice is my last des­ti­na­tion; a pure tourist haven. The wa­ter com­mute and the bridges are what Venice is pop­u­lar for and draws peo­ple from world over. But once the wa­ter taxi parks at the sta­tion at St. Marks Square, the walk to­wards the Rialto bridge re­veals the true colours of Venice. The labyrinth of th­ese pedes­trian streets is a com­plex net­work -- you’ll never be able to take the same route again. Th­ese nar­row streets house res­i­dences, small and big shops and, of course, their fa­mous eater­ies. The Vene­tian masks which fame the Car­ni­val of Venice and the Mu­rano glass have shops lined up through th­ese streets. The masks and Mu­rano glass colours in the streets leave in­deli­ble im­pres­sions on the mind. The Vene­tian streets with their or­di­nary look and feel have luxury brands co-ex­ist­ing with the lo­cal shops and eater­ies. Wo­ven into tra­di­tional Vene­tian ar­chi­tec­ture, th­ese brands do not lose out on their pre­mium feel. Quite classy! The in­trigu­ing fac­tor is the sur­prise el­e­ment. You never know what you might stum­ble up on your trail.

Mansi Lavsi, Se­nior Re­porter

VJ Me­dia Works Pvt Ltd

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