Milanese women, I find, are interesting. See, they may not exactly fit into the category of immaculate beauty, but they do possess something possibly far greater and one of life’s most pleasant virtues. Class, confidence and finesse. That effortless Je ne sais quoi. It is a birth right that they live and breathe so effortlessly. Not many can capture this way of being.
Living in such a vibrant and engaging city like Milan it is hard not to get swept away and be fascinated by their art of sophistication. What strikes me is the natural flare they have of putting themselves together. It is an inner know how. Mainly because fashion and deportment has been thrusted upon them since childhood. I’d imagine they watched their parents and grandparents dress, shop, have a keen eye for detail and know what quality was about. How to take life in stride and walk the walk.
Quality is king in one of the most revered and well-known cities, Milan is known for its style in the North of Italy. There is a very important caveat that comes with all of this, confidence. You can’t always get by with style alone, there is also an unspoken aura that permeates through them.
Milanese women have confidence with their style. It goes hand in hand with their deportment. Kind of the same way they have a breadbasket accompany a meal at a restaurant. It is customary and goes with the service, this is the Italian way of life.
There was one thing I wanted to understand and really capture during my time there. To be amongst the crowd and to feel the essence of the city, too be one of them. So, I sat, I sat, and I watched, like a sleuth.
Milanese women know how to wear their shoes. Stiletto’s, even though generally used for the evening, also do make an appearance during the day, within reason. Like New Yorkers the Milanese walk a lot. So, it is walking distant and dependent with their steadfast way of wanting to complete the outfit with killer heels. When walking from A to B one usually will wear stylish wedges, comfy flats and sneakers. A mid heel boot was also amongst the pack. Whichever the shoe it was, they are always sexy and effortless and really do complete the outfit.
Quality does bring comfort and they know exactly what they can and can’t get away with wearing, and for how long. Being bold is one attribute that I must give them credit for. Not all can be this adventurous. Daring to mix and match and change. Always staying true to one thing, Designer Labels! Whether its shoes, clothes, scarves, bags and jewellery, it is very rare that one doesn’t have a designer label on them.
Daily there is an element of high-end luxury on a person. Aesthetics is important to them. How you look, what you wear with confidence and what you do is essentially what makes the Milanese. Being immaculately presented is their strong suit and they do it with pride.
You can’t help but stare and be mesmerized by the way they carry themselves. It is natural to react that way. It is a compliment, like a sense of validation. Take for example a stroll to the stores in one of the most luxurious strips of Milan, ‘Via Montenapoleone’, a plain shirt, a jacket to the waist with wide-legged pants and some casual sneakers for comfort. Now that may seem normal but what makes it a cut above the rest is perhaps a Louis Vuitton scarf, a Gucci bag, some nice earrings, black large Prada sunglasses and maybe a small hat on the side.
This is what makes a casual day out walking, into something so chic. How you are walking it and how you are feeling whilst walking it, with pride and confidence. That is what makes the ordinary, extraordinary. The Milanese do this with finesse.
The combination of classy and confidence should be mimicked the world over. Having most of the world’s most iconic fashion houses at your doorstep does help of course but it doesn’t take long to learn and take on board the Milanese woman’s way of being. It is an art form.
Melbourne women are an interesting sort. See there is a mix of all when you think about it. Not all belong in a certain category. Many have their own sense of taste and confidence.
Then there are who need a greater understanding of deportment and culture, however, this is not of interest to all. Some Melbournian’s just don’t resonate with fashion and culture at all. That is because fashion is not of cultural importance whereas in Milan it is.
Melbourne does possess several similarities to Milan in terms of city living and certain ways of being. Therefore, Melbourne was dubbed the sister city. Yet with fashion, it does fall short somewhat. In Milan they live and breathe it, it is their way of life.
Fashion here in Melbourne is for those who are interested in it, love it, and enjoy having it as part of their makeup.
Many do have an appreciation and understanding and flow when it comes to style and deportment and I believe this is to be celebrated. Yet there is a cultural shift that needs to take place for Melbourne to reach the levels of Milan, even just a little bit.
Aesthetics has become very prevalent in the last few years and many are awakening to new ways and trends and taking heed from their European counterparts. In Melbourne not all follow trends or style guides, wearing clothes is just a thing, maybe because they have never really been exposed to the fashion realm.
Melbourne houses some amazing designers and quality garments yet there is a divide between women who know how to ‘work it’ and rock an outfit and those who don’t. In Milan, this would be a catastrophe.
Melbourne’s shift into being fashion forward has to do with more confidence and pride in women not just bringing international designers to the helm. Both need to be aligned. More knowledge and awareness for brands and people taking pride in their customers too. It is the way you look, how you feel about yourself, the way you shop and how the shopping experience makes you feel. This alone will change consumer behaviour.
Melbournian women and the way they shop, live, feel, speak, and hold their values and ideals greatly and this can be expanded and even be changed just by taking some key attributes and behaviours from the Milanese women. Fashion is not only art but love, and love is for everyone.
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Written by Marisa Ferraro
Photography Sam Tabone for Milan Fashion Week 2019