For the first time, my wife Bianca and I traveled to Italy to attend the semi-annual Italian menswear event, Pitti Uomo — the pinnacle of Made-in-Italy atrisanship. Unless you are in the menswear industry, you have probably never heard of this show. However, for the sartorically-inclined, this is a pilgrimage worth making, as do about 30,000 people from around the world. In January and June of ever year, some of the most fashionable dandies converge on Florence to see what the best Italian artisans have developed for the following season.
Many of my friends in the business had been telling me the importance of attending this event for quite some time. However, as many of you may understand, a trip to Italy is not cheap, especially with the state of the dollar. Originally scheduled for January 2012, I decided better sooner than later while hearing Ed Shaikh from Hadleigh’s Bespoke and William Kissel from Robb Report romance their past trips.
As I am beginning to research some new “special projects” (more to come later) and feeling the need to get out of Texas for a little inspiration, why not. My wife quickly volunteered (or insisted) that she accompany me as an assistant. Of course, I obliged. With that, we were off to Milan, Florence, and Rome with side-trips to Como and Tuscany.
The purpose of the trip was to research new product for The Hanger Project and for some new “special projects” in the works for the balance of 2011 and 2012. If you are already a customer, you will be hearing more about these projects in the near future.
|A picture of some of G. Lorenzi’s handmade accessories for men through their shop window on via Montenapoleone.|
Milan, the fashion capital of Italy and one of its largest cities, seemed like a great place to begin our Italian journey. We knew in advanced that the weather would not be good, so I used this as an excuse to order a pair of ultra-comfortable and water-resistant chukka boots from my good friend Ron at the Rider Boots Company (similar to these, but different color). Armed with these incredible boots and an umbrella, we hit the via Montenapoleone in search for some of Milan’s incredible boutiques (despite the rain).
Or first stop was G. Lorenzi. What began in 1929 as a cutlery shop, it eventually evolved, at the demands of clients, to include shave and smoking accessories. Now, one can find a collection of literally thousands of accessories for men handcrafted by the firm. The second floor houses one of the most extensive collection of shaving tools and accessories probably ever compiled, spanning almost two hundred years. The collection counts almost 4,000 safety razors, alone! You must ask to view this collection.
|Gianni Agnelli and Bianca Brandolini, two huge Italian socialites, joined us for lunch one table behind us.|
Another Milan landmark that was on our list was 10 Corso Como. Founded in 1990 by the former editor of Vogue Italy, 10 Corso Como’s store and cafe has become an institution frequented by Milan’s fashion elite. If you take a close look at this picture of me and Bianca, you’ll see that socialites Lapo Elkann, grandson of Fiat founder Gianni Agnelli, and his girlfriend Bianca Brandolini. They declined to join us for lunch.
Milan is a beautiful city and, honestly, was our favorite. We enjoyed that the city was big enough to not be dominated by tourists yet still retained a distinctly Italian feel. The people watching was incredible and the piazzas always filled more with local Milanese than tourists with cameras.
Piazza Duomo at night.The friendly bar hands at the Gia Como restaurant overlooking the Duomo.
One of the many beauties of Milan is the fact that Lake Como is a short 45 minute train ride from the city (provided that you are able to find the train schedule — I highly recommend printing out a schedule before arriving at the train station; the lines are terrible). We were able to stay at a charming hotel right next door to Villa d’Este, one of the premier properties on the lake and host to the annual Concorso d’Eleganza classic car show. Although we abstained from the $1,000-a-night rooms, we did certainly enjoy their bar during the evening. To the right is a picture of us with a guest’s Ferrari. He declined my offer to take his photography but instead kindly offered to take a picture of us; sadly, his offer did not include the keys, but we nonetheless graciously accepted.