Shopping in Milan is a spectator sport – the city’s manicured streets are a catwalk where the fearless and bold strut, showcasing trends that are mere minutes old and keeping many a street-style blog in business. And while there’s nothing so pedestrian as rules in Italian fashion, the trained eye can discern cliques – or sartorial tribes – among the in-Vogue Milanese. Whatever look you’re rocking, our one-stop guide will show you where to suit up and socialise.
The tribe New New Romantics
The look Nymph-esque
Winnow yourself into floaty ruffles at Roberto Cavalli on Via Monte Napoleone; we believe a well-thumbed Barbara Cartland bodice-ripper rests atop the flamboyant designer’s nightstand this season. Dolce & Gabbana’s folk embroidery and florals will make you feel like a fairy-tale heroine – one who lives happily ever after. The sunny Sicilian brights, Swarovski crystals and scattering of daisies in the label’s Via della Spiga store bring little heart pupils to our eyes – true story.
The hangout Try Bar Luce at Fondazione Prada, an ice-cream-coloured café and bar designed by director Wes Anderson, which is as whimsical as one of his set pieces.
The tribe Haute Hacktivists
The look Anime princess-turned-online avenger
Louis Vuitton’s spring 2016 campaign starred pink-haired Final Fantasy heroine Lightning (courtesy of game designer Tetsuya Nomura), modelling Nicolas Ghesquière’s sporty cyber-goth ensembles. Milan has three Vuitton stores (on Via Monte Napoleone, at the Piazza del Duomo, and in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II), where the fashion crowd’s inner moody teens indulge in leather jackets and spray-painted bags. But no masks – you want to be anything but anonymous.
The hangout The cool kids clash prints with the ironic 1970s wallpaper in dive-y gay bar Mono on Via Lecco and show up fashionably late to the avant garde happenings in graffiti-strewn art space Leoncavallo on Via Antoine Watteau.
The tribe War-Painted Ladies
The look Urban armour
Glass-ceiling-smashers, strut to Prada in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to shrug on Fabio Zambernardi’s striped-leather jackets in ‘don’t even think about it’ hues, which will warn beholders to admire from afar. For fall, add a tough edge to Christophe Chemin’s dreamy prints; pair with a military-style trench. If that doesn’t cut it, Thomas Maier has created sleek silhouettes, in head-to-toe black for Bottega Veneta, which is on Via Monte Napoleone; wear with as dark a lip as you dare.
The hangout From the arbiters of refined workwear, the glossy red and black Emporio Armani Caffè on Via Croce Rossa is the natural habitat of the power dresser. Dolce & Gabbana’s Martini Bar on Corso Venezia may be clad in more black leather than a BDSM club, but it’s more refined than risqué.
The tribe The Strike-A-Poseurs
The look No half measures
Jeremy Scott for Moschino’s chandelier dress lights up any room, quite literally: it’s adorned with electric candles. His smoking ensembles, done in homage to the Bonfire of the Vanities, will also create quite a scene. Cause some drama in the Via Sant’Andrea boutique. Failing that, Pucci’s fall collection – oversized sweaters and 1980s-bright ski wear – will warm you up while keeping you cool. Head to the shop on Via Monte Napoleone. Meanwhile, MSGM’s Pop Art prints and polka dots should hang from an exhibitionist – check them out on Via Ponte Vetero.
The hangout Go to La Nuova Idea, on Via Alcide de Gasperi, to swap style tips with Milan’s most fabulous drag queens, and to waltz across the floor dedicated to ballroom dancing.
The tribe Le Freak, So Chic
The look Gucci, darling
Alessandro Michele’s gawkily glam sirens shun She’s All That pretensions and keep those (heavy, horn-rimmed) glasses firmly in place. Prints clash, pussy bows and bell bottoms rear their ugly heads and prom dresses are paired with kipper ties and sweater vests, but Michele has rappelled into the bargain barrel of trends and emerged triumphant, with the brand’s most covetable collection to date. Stick a pen in us, and call us a pocket protector – we’re done.
The hangout If dinner in a 1930s sawmill appeals, make a booking at Carlo e Camilla in Segheria where jolie laide largesse reigns supreme. MICS’s crumbling walls are an ideally urbane backdrop for a striking look, and eccentrics will feel at home in fresco-clad Bagutta.
The tribe Minimal Efforts
The look Keep it simple
Fluffy Fendirumi characters (inspired by kigurumi: Japan’s mascot culture) unnerved the f’row at Fendi’s fall show; however, you’re unlikely to be accosted in the Via Monte Napoleone store, where the low-key red, white and khaki pieces from the Spring prêt-à-porter collection are delightfully fuss-free. Jil Sander puts a svelte spin on austerity, with minimal must-haves from Rodolfo Paglialunga’s spring 2016 show, in the brand’s Via Pietro Verri outpost.
The hangout Members of the Alemagna pâtissier dynasty created T’a Milano bistro and cioccolateria on Via Clerici, so you know it’s good. Navy banquettes, strips of light-grey marble and just a hint of gold are retro, refined and anything but try-hard.
Featured image via Getty / Kadirdemir