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DISCOVERING FASHION IN MILAN

Rachael Martin visits the Armani/Silos and the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation, both in Tortona, the design centre of the international capital of fashion

The Italians know what they’re doing when it comes to creating la bella figura. Italian fashion – indeed the whole Italian package – has permeated our lives. It’s enough for something to read “Made in Italy” and we’re attracted, possibly also seduced. And if we’re talking about fashion, we have to talk about Milan.

Italian fashion, at least on an international scale, is a fairly recent phenomenon. Florence was home to the fashion shows right through the 1950s and 1960s, after the first Italian High Fashion Show that had taken place in 1951; yet at the end of the 1960s things started to change. In 1967 Missoni created a stir when Rita Missoni didn’t like the underwear the models were wearing at the show at Palazzo Pitti and asked them to remove it, the effect being far sexier than planned.

Missoni didn’t receive an invite to Palazzo Pitti the following year, and so they held their own fashion show in Milan at the Solari swimming pool. Others followed suit in what signalled a shift from Florence to Milan.

The year 1968 saw a cultural revolution that filtered down into fashion. In Milan, Fiorucci brought the styles of the Swinging Sixties to his store in Piazza San Babila, and designers such as Armani, Versace, Missoni, Walter Albini, Krizia and Gianfranco Ferré were all part of a developing ready-to-wear Milanese fashion scene that grew throughout the 1970s and made such designers some of the greatest names of fashion.

If you’re interested in fashion, there are two places that deserve a place on your Milan itinerary. The first is the Armani/Silos, a beautifully minimalistic structure based in what used to be a silo dedicated to Giorgio Armani, the designer who has dressed so many stars. The second is the Fondazione Ferré, set up by Gianfranco Ferré, the architecture student from Legnano who became known as the architect of fashion and famous for his signature white shirts. Both Armani/Silos and the Fondazione Gianfranco Ferré are in Tortona, Milan’s prolific design district that puts on its very best every April for the Milan Furniture Fair (design week) as part of the Fuorisalone events that take place throughout the city. Allow a full day if you’re planning to visit both, especially if you wish to explore the archives.The Italians know what they’re doing when it comes to creating la bella figura. Italian fashion – indeed the whole Italian package – has permeated our lives. It’s enough for something to read “Made in Italy” and we’re attracted, possibly also seduced. And if we’re talking about fashion, we have to talk about Milan.

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