Food, fashion in a flurry

Matt and I were in Milan last week; first post is here.

Italian food and fashion:  what more could a traveler want?  And Milan is the place!

I took a few hours one afternoon during the meeting to wander Milan with some colleagues in search of high fashion at bargain prices.  We skipped out of the end of the conference one day and boarded a bus to the other side of town. A walk through gracious tree-lined streets brought us to a multi-floored hodge-podge of designer-labeled clothes — only it looked a little like a secondhand store, so the prices (I’d say on average 60 to 100 euro for separates) were not enticing.  And everything seemed to be made of plastic (lycra, spandex, etc.)!

Deluxe downscale

I felt more gratified on the afternoon of the last day of the conference, when CNg and I walked over to another high-fashion-label bargain store on her way to catch the train out of town. Almost impossible to find until we found it, at the end of a street and inside the courtyard of a seemingly severe apartment building, the fine items inside didn’t quite match the construction chaos and graffiti outside.

CNg was in search of a little black dress and red shoes — still too expensive at this joint, even at 60% off, to buy Givenchy!  We saw some CRAZY platform heel shoes made of sharkskin.  The pebbly texture made me think the skin was made of rocks at first.  Beautiful! And yes, I feel guilty thinking that.

We stopped for a glass of white wine (perfect on a hot afternoon), followed by decadent gelato (darkest chocolate I’ve ever had) in an upscale street a few blocks over.  (Patagonia had a storefront there, and farther along was a “recycled” clothing store, which was still expensive for a top made of silk thread remnants from the factory floor.)

Shoes! Italian shoes!

At the last store we visited, CNg found her red patent leather pumps. I was not in the market, but that didn’t stop me from ogling orange shoes in one windowfront.  I went in search of more sensible shoes the next day, when I had some time to wander by myself, with the conference over and Matt in another meeting.

I walked down Washington Street to the southerly canal district, to take a gander at the restaurants (a local beer brewery!) and some small clothing stores — including a place that gives you tools to make your own simple dresses, and one with an amazing photo display mounted above amazing clothing (rich colors like blood-red silk and gold and deep purple, crenulations and puffed full skirts, jackets and blouses).  The show, by an Italian photographer, documents the crazy suits that men must go to Paris to buy as a kind of rite of passage: Gentlemen of Bacongo, by Daniele Tamagni (above clothes by a woman designer whose name I missed unfortunately).

I walked slowly back north from the canal, towards the Duomo.  I stopped in a few shoe stores to try on shoes but did not buy anything, and sat for a while in the afternoon heat in front of a church, as I waited for Matt to call and say whether we could meet for a late lunch.  Instead, by 2:30, I was ravenous; I stopped for more gelato (guava and mango, mmm) before I went to meet him and his crew for a so-so sandwich at a neighborhood bar-café near our hotel.

That night made up for the afternoon’s culinary disaster (though the gelato was excellent!).  We went, for the third time that week, to Enoteca Decanter for dinner.  I confess that I depend on The New York Times travel section when I’m on my way to a new city, and Milan’s entries did not fail me. This place carried excellent Italian microbrews (in wine-sized bottles and with double the alcohol content!), alongside its copious wine selection, and I had delicious tartar two nights out of three, once traditional style and the second time with aranciata, or orange.  The melanzane alla parmigiana was to die for.  Even the smell alone was almost enough.  I am inspired to try to make it at home, and know that I will fail.

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