Milan Fashion Week

There was a red carpet set up for some public events in a piazza near the duomo
I'm still getting over the jet lag, but what a great week we had in Milan hunting down fashion events. We didn't really know what to expect when my daughter, son, and I showed up in Milan without any fashion connections. We just had a great desire to experience Fashion Week, a dream of my daughter who works in the fashion industry.  As it turned out, you don't need formal invitations to runway shows to have a great time.

This was the first year that the Milan Chamber of Commerce wanted to open up events to the public, so we got lucky.  We weren't aware of that until we got there.  We came armed with a fashion week app for our smart phones, and my daughter and son used Facebook, twitter, and instagram to track celebrities they knew would be attending, looking for clues about times and locations.  We did a google search for 'fashion week milan' and found out there would be several piazzas with public displays, and better yet, Italian Vogue was sponsoring a 'Fashion Night Out' loaded with special events.  The actual Fashion Week arena is Fieramilanocity- a huge convention center.  It would be very difficult to get in there without some type of authorization.  On the other hand, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana used several venues and you could get the addresses easily.  In fact, we even saw billboards in the public areas with complete details.
You could find these signs at places around the city where events were being held

The first day we did our own little walking tour of the main shopping district in Milan.  You can pick up any tour book and get the scoop on where to find the shopping district.  Basically, start at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and keep walking.  There were also free maps that had more information about where to find specific shops.  There were plenty of interesting window displays and we spotted models throughout the area doing a little sightseeing of their own.  It's easy to pick them out because they tower over the average person and are incredibly thin.  You could find VIP shoppers due to the black private cars parked at the curb just outside the expensive shops.  All the designers are represented such as Chanel, Gucci, Prada, etc.  I was surprised at how sparse the goods are in the shops.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I know little about high fashion.  I get most of my clothing at places like Eddie Bauer or shop online for Columbia!  I suppose that when each clothing item costs well over $1000, you don't need a wide selection.  Most of the stores have doormen.  You never find yourself in a crowd when looking at the goods.
The newest fashions at Dolce & Gabbana- loved the stained glass dresses

In the shopping district, we stumbled on Vogue's headquarters for the week.  In this building were some new designers showcasing their talents.  You could browse their collection of items- some were clothing, but there were also purses, jewelry, and other accessories.  They had the editor of Vogue Italy, Franca Sozzani, as well as some other fashion minded people giving news conferences.  Later that night we were fortunate to meet her in person and my daughter had a photo taken with her.
Ms. Franca Sozzani with my daughter, Melissa- such a classy lady
 and a huge influence on the international fashion scene
That night was Vogue's Fashion Night out.  All the stores were open late and each had their own little form of a party.  There were live models in the windows, DJs, street dancing, artists drawing shoppers the way they would do a model, celebrities, free drinks, and lots of commemorative items like bags for sale.  The streets were packed!  I can't remember a time when window shopping has been more fun!  We visited most of the same area we had seen during the day, but it was a totally different experience.  We were there for nearly 4 hours before we were pooped and had to call it a night.
DJ with music at an eyeglass store
You could dress up in their clothing and be sketched- how fun!

For 15 Euro, you could buy a commemorative T-shirt
The live model at the store she represents- Nadine

One of the newest jewelry designers- amazing talent

When Fashion Week officially began, we headed to displays in one of the piazzas nearby the Duomo.  You could see the sponsors' displays, watch hair being done on the VIPs and models, see more fashion designs, and watch the people in the fashion industry come and go from the lounges and events.  My daughter was gutsy and asked to be admitted to the building where all the VIPs were going.  To my surprise, she got a schedule of events and was invited inside to see more showrooms with designers on hand to present their goods, as well as meet the models preparing for the shows.  Naturally we couldn't go to the actual show, but it was fun to meet the designers and models and question them about their work.  Once you know where the events are being held, you can easily just show up and do some serious people watching.
Here you see the design hanging on a mannequin in the showroom

Now the model is wearing it and going to get her hair done
This pair of models was modeling spring National Costume.  We met them on the elevator!

Our last day in Milan, there was a Cavalli fashion show being held at Parco Sempione, so we showed up about a half hour before it was due to start.  They had separate gates for ticket holders, so you could stand and watch people enter, but I found lots of people wielding large cameras near the crosswalk at the curb in front of the event.  It turns out that most of the VIPs were arriving by taxi and you could get a pretty good view of all of them as they stepped across the street.  Many of the models would pose for you, or even tell you how they would cross the street so you could be prepared for the best shots.  They want you to make them look good, so it was a team effort.  I spoke with one model who said that even if you are not in the show, designers will ask you to attend events wearing their designs with the sole purpose of being photographed.  It's all about exposure.  Being in the circle of fashion photographers was a lot of fun.  I learned a lot about angles, shots, exposures they use and what makes a good photo.  Most of them are freelancers hoping to sell their photos, or fashion bloggers.  Others work for magazines like Glamour or Harper's Bazaar.  There were live interviewers there from Glamour.  It's apparently just as good a show on the streets as inside the fashion shows, and people are taking notice.  It's become kind of an alternate Milan Fashion Week to see what real people are wearing to events.  I'll leave you with a few of my favorite street styles.  Enjoy!


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