Destination Memories: Milan, Italy

Members and travel writers share the places they’re travelling to, albeit in their minds

Milan is "sexy, flamboyant and oozes style and elegance from every corner" says Luke Day, Editor of British GQ Style, Fashion Director at British GQ and London member

By Luke Day  Images courtesy of Luke Day  Tuesday 23 June, 2020    Short read

You know you’ve landed in the Italian epicentre of style when the giant hoarding emblazoned with the Emporio Armani logo comes into view from your plane window. On my first visit to Milan on a sixth form trip in 1994, I instantly fell in love. It was like a heady perfume, affecting my mind and senses. Gianni Versace was the king of fashion, and the city’s dazzling designer boutique windows were decked with larger-than-life imagery of the original supermodels. It was all rather overwhelming. I could only dream I would one day return as an editor at a magazine. 
The front facade of a gothic cathedral.
Five models standing on a stage.
Things went to plan and I’ve been travelling there for the past 20 years. I’d go at least twice a year (often more), primarily for fashion week. I have experienced the full gamut of weather, from cold and foggy winters to hot and humid summers. I love the variety. People like to hate on Milan. Its first appearance can be dusty, grimy and grey. It may not have the drama of other famous Italian cities, or be the prettiest. But, it is by far the coolest, most cosmopolitan city in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Fashion week in Milan is the city at its best. It’s sexy and flamboyant, and oozes style and elegance from every corner. Fashion is everywhere. It spills out on to the streets with deep visceral conviction. The Milanese love to dress ‘up’; our idea of evening wear is their daywear. I learned quickly that underdressing is rarely appropriate, and overdressing is much appreciated. I have felt myself to be bordering on the ridiculous at times in some outré get-up, only to be applauded by the Milanese who champion the bold and the beautiful.
Cocktails in small bottles next to a plant.
A fashion moodboard.
My tour of duty takes me around the city numerous times a day, passing the heart and soul of Milan. I cruise past the gothic, white-marbled, imposing facade of the Duomo, and on to the world-famous opera house, La Scala. The seasonal visit to the sublime modernist masterpiece, Villa Necchi Campiglio – the setting for Luca Guadagnino’s film I Am Love – to swiftly down a glass of Prosecco at the Tod’s presentation. Or a stolen emotional moment viewing Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ at the Santa Maria delle Grazie, during the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda weekend affair. These are moments I will never forget. 
The last time I was in Milan, coronavirus had just broken out and the city was approaching lockdown. I fled the next day after some fun wining and dining with my work family. We stuffed our faces at the infamous restaurant, Bice, then downed cocktails at the Palazzo Parigi hotel. I will wistfully reminisce about that weekend, yearning for the restaurant, Trattoria Torre di Pisa, where I ate three times in 24 hours that February. I will miss the balmy late nights of this June, where we would usually meet after hours with the wilder fashion crowd at Bar Basso. A true Milanese monument, it’s where the institution of the aperitivo was born and the now-legendary Negroni Sbagliato was invented in 1968. I will muse as to whether I will see supermodels grace the catwalks in the near future. But it’s the Milanese I really can’t wait to see again. They’re so vibrant and expressive – fashion obsessed, never knowingly underdressed. The women possess old-school glamour and the men have so much swagger. They move like they are the stars of their own film, and it’s a joy to behold.
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