>>>Save money (and wear Prada) in Milan
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Save money (and wear Prada) in Milan

Italy’s fashion capital might be known for its extravagant shop windows and glamorous lifestyle, but there are ways to enjoy the city without breaking the bank.
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ou can just as easily run into Stephano Gabbana riding around town on his scooter as you could spot him organising a luxury dinner party al fresco. Last time he gathered 400 people after presenting the 2017 spring/summer collection at Milan Fashion Week. It’s the magic of a city that rebranded itself just in time. Lacking the fame of the ‘eternal city’ and overshadowed by Florence’s beautiful artistic heritage, Milan plays the cards it knows best: design and sophistication.

In the late 1950s, Milan became a fashion powerhouse. Created in 1958, the Italian Fashion Week joined New York, Paris and London on the circuit where Anna Wintour & co. pick up all the latest trends. “You would never see anyone go to a restaurant in Milan wearing a jumpsuit!,” said Italian model Mariacarla Boscono, speaking to Vogue. Not even the latest trend is stylish enough for Italians. Particularly not in the capital of ‘made in Italy.’

Chiara Ferragni arriving to Milan Fashion Week
Milanese blogger Chiara Ferragni is a fixture at Fashion Week.
Photo: Jan Zahradka / Shutterstock, Inc

A must-see

10 Corso Como is home to a venue that combines design, culture, art and fashion. Fashion editor Carla Sozzani, sister of Vogue Italy’s editor-in-chief, created a gallery that went on to include a publishing house, a book shop, a café, restaurant, shop and even a three-bedroom hotel. Sozzani has exported the concept to Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing and New York.

The city oozes style. Milan is home to flagship Italian fashion houses: Armani, Dolce&Gabbana, Moschino, Versace, Prada… And also to emerging designers, including rising star Giannico, a 21-year-old who is already rubbing shoulders with the greats. Rihanna called him “inspiring” and Manolo Blahnik encouraged him to share his unique shoes with the world.

 

Milan’s Quadrilatero della Moda is bordered by four main streets: Montenapoleone, Manzoni, Della Spiga and Corso Venezia, making this the epicentre for luxury shopping in the city. Vía Montenapoleone, once lined by the Roman city walls, is the sixth most expensive street in the world. Unsurprisingly, it is also where Dolce&Gabbana organized their dinner party.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Construction work on Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II started in 1865.
Photo: pcruciatti / Shutterstock, Inc.

Premier shopping destination?

You can’t visit Milan and not walk through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This arcade connects the Piazza del Duomo and Piazza de la Scala and is often called the oldest shopping centre in the world. Not exactly, but it is certainly one of the prettiest malls, thanks to its glass dome that lets in natural light.

Window shopping can be just as fun as pawing through the store racks, though there are plenty of affordable options if you fancy taking your credit card for a spin. The Brera Quarter is known for its Bohemian atmosphere, boutiques and antique dealers. Corso Buenos Aires, meanwhile, is like NYC’s Fifth Avenue and represents the democratization of contemporary fashion, with more than 1,600 metres of shops, including outlets and low cost brands

 

Corso di Porta Ticinese, on the other hand, is lined with vintage and second-hand shops, as well as Gap and Vans stores. If you like a rummaging through flea markets, check out Fiera di Sinigaglia (held every Saturday in the Ticinese quarter), where thet have everything from records to organic beauty products.

 

10 Corso Como
In 1991, sociologist Francesco Morace coined for 10 Corso Como the term ‘concept shop,’ which would later become a standard idea.
Photo: 10 Corso Como

If you really do want to splurge on haute couture, however, there’s only one thing to do: save on something else. Like meals. Perhaps that’s why Milan rules the Italian aperitivo scene. It starts at around 6 pm and includes a drink and a buffet of hors d’oeuvres that can be anything from cold meat and olives to pasta and pizza. One of the most iconic aperitivos is served at Camparino, founded by the inventor of Campari at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, next to the Duomo.

Navigli, the canal district that Leonardo Da Vinci helped expand, is another highlight, with lively outdoor restaurants and bars packed with trendy hipsters. On her blog, It girl Chiara Ferragni recommends two places where you can go for aperitivo and spend around 10 euro: Vista Darsena (Viale D’Annunzio 20) and Rita (Via Angelo Fumagalli 1). See, fashionistas love a bargain, too! So that they can splurge on Miu Miu accessories, of course.

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