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Shopping in Milan

Alongside London, New York and Paris, Milan is one of the homes of Fashion Week and Milan itself is a paradise for those fashionistas who were born to shop. Prada, Versace, Armani and Dolce e Gabbana all set up shop for the first time in Milan so this is the city to come to when you want to shop with the big boys.

MilanOne of the most famous areas for designer labels is concentrated around the streets Via Montenapoleone, Via Della Spiga, Via Manzoni and Santa Spirito. Together they go to make up the Quadrilatero d’Oro - otherwise known as the Golden Triangle (which is odd in it’s own way, because quadrilatero actually means quadrilateral or four-sided).

Also called the Quadrilatero della Moda (Quadrilateral of Fashion), this is the famous area where labels junkies go to die. Armani, Versace, Valentino, Dolce e Gabbana, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Valentino, Ferragamo, Fendi, Moschino, Cavalli, La Perla, Bottega Veneta, Bulgari, Trussardi are just some of the humble garment makers attempting to earn an honest buck in this golden square of success and aspiration. Grace them with your presence by all means but remember a £6000 handbag is going to look terribly out of place on the number 19 bus to Heckmondwike once you get home.

Of course Milan is an international fashion capital so it’s not just the Italian designers with floorspace. Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Jil Sander, Burberry, Kenzo, and Tods are just a few of the famous names in the Quadrilatero alone. This is one of the most exclusive areas for shopping in Milan so make sure you take your plastic with you.

Because Fashion is More than Just Clothes...

As well as being the opulent home of extremely well established designers there are also some wonderfully innovative flagship stores.

It’s becoming increasingly popular for the luxury brands to create a total lifestyle package for their customers. See a particularly fine example of this approach at Spazio Armani (31 Via Manzoni) where you can flit between Emporio Armani, Armani Casa, Armani Fiori and the Emporio Armani Cafe (so even your intestines can wear designer).

MilanAt Corso Como 10, started by the sister of Italian Vogue’s editor in chief and her American boyfriend, you can visit the photo exhibition, designer boutique and bookshop before dinner at their restaurant or drinks in their garden bar.

Well heeled nature lovers should point their carbon footprints in the direction of Centro Botanico (Piazza San Marco 1). At one end is a furniture shop selling natural wood ergonomically designed homewear, at the other end is an organic food market and in the middle there’s a bookshop, children’s area, cafe and, one would imagine, a whole lot of boho chic.

Prada has pushed itself further into the future than most with its interactive dressing rooms allowing users a variety of views and information exchange about the garments they are trying on. Imagining your wardrobe has mated with a spaceship gives you some idea of the experience to be had. Just make sure your trousers are done up before you permit your image to be beamed to the personal shopper outside the door. Oh Milan, what will you think of next?

Casa Mia, Casa Tua...

MilanAmongst such excess it’s easy to get carried away. If the inevitable happens and you find you’ve accidentally splashed out on a head to toe wardrobe makeover at Versace’s four-floor emporium (Via Montenapoleone 2) you may as well go the whole hog and get a few knick knacks for your bedsit. Exclusive design and furniture shops close to the Quadrilitero in Via Durini, Manzoni and Corso Matteoti should be able to accommodate your need for a leopard skin poof poof with no questions asked. Da Driade in Via Manzoni is a particularly lovely place to visit being housed in a beautifully furnished palazzo with a large frescoed room.

For art and antiques you can have a pretty nice time cruising galleries along the cafe laden Via Fiori Chiari and hitting up the weekend fair at Naviglio Grande. This area used to be known as the Artist’s Centre because so many artists came to paint the views of the canal from here. It’s still packed with artists using it as an open air studio. In fact it’s packed with everybody all the time. As well as clothes, art and antiques (the Mercatone dell’Antiquariato is a very popular antiques fair on the last Sunday of the month) you can also pick up something more transient at the fish, flower and fruit markets in the area.

MilanFor those of you who can’t afford to participate in keeping millionaire designers in yachts you should think about hauling your sorry cheapskate self to the Saturday street market at Viale Papiniano or the flea market Fiera di Senigallia where you might be able to exchange your birthday money for something someone considerably richer than you decided to throw away.

Navigli has some wonderful second hand clothes shops for women whilst vintage menswear can be found along Corso Buenos Aires. Corso Buenos Aires is actually one of the longest streets in Europe and you can find many familiar shops like Benetton and Kookai on here too. More second hand treasures can be found at Humana Vintage (situated 2 minutes walk from the Duomo on Via Cappellari) which caters for men and women with styles from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and designer clothes in addition to a wide range of accessories and textiles. On Via Brera you’ll find one of Milan’s original second hand clothes shops. Cavalli e Nastri has some really unusual second hand pieces including a selection of vintage wedding dresses, which is always handy in a country with such delectable inhabitants.

MilanIf you aren’t so concerned about high end fashion or the jewels of yesteryear but still like to shop you can find international high street chains like Zara, H&M et al over on Corso Vittorio Emanuelle II. There is a also a Rinascente on this street which is a really great department store with a huge selection of brands under one roof.

July and January are particularly good times to visit Milan as this is when they have their major sales on, but for some of the best discounts try Salvagente (Via Bronzetti 16). They slash the price of their designer stock by up to 60% in the sales so sharpen your elbows and watch for blows to the face. The name means “life saver” and if you are determined to get yourself a slice of aspirational living regardless of your actual salary you may find it aptly named.

If you’ve still got room in your suitcase after shopping in Milan itself you can always cast your net a little wider and head for the Designer Outlet McArthur Glen. A drive of less than one hour towards Genova will deposit you at the entrance of the biggest designer outlet in Europe. The shops here range from Calvin Klein to Burger King, so if you can’t find something to spend your money on here you’re just not trying hard enough.

 
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