The importance of Italy in the history of fashion cannot be understated. You would have to have lived under a rock your entire life not to know the broad lineage of Italian brands, designers, fashion houses and high-end labels that contributed to the shape of style today.
To this day, Italy’s name is synonymous with trends in high fashion, which was true for the country since the Renaissance. Italy’s reputation in fashion was first set by the monarchy. Everyone wanted to dress like the nobility, and they dressed lavishly. The 15th century was a time of artistic flourishing and vibrant colours. Women in Italy wore elaborate clothing, jewellery, makeup, and other accessories while men wore pigmented colours and intricate embroideries on their tunics, both to signal their position and authority. You can often see this Leonardo Da Vinci’s portraits of the Florentine elite.
During this time, cities such as Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples, and Rome produced textiles and fabrics like wool, silk, and velvet. The legacy of this industry lasted through the mid-20th century when the fashion market started to become increasingly competitive. That’s when Milan began to make a real name for itself. The curious history of fashion in Italy started with the Italian aristocracy dating from before the Renaissance. Let’s dive a little deeper.
The fashion capital
If there’s one city that worthy of the ‘fashion capital’ crown, it’s Milan. Milan is without a doubt the capital of Italian and international fashion. The cosmopolitan incorporates luxury, art, gastronomy and culture. It is the perfect place for fashionistas and industry enthusiasts.
Milan houses Quadrilatero d’Oro (the golden rectangle) that is limited to four streets – Via Monte Napoleone, Via Alessandro Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia. These lanes include some of the world’s best luxury, fashion and jewellery boutiques and workshops are considered the district for excellence for the best creations and Italian designers.
Milan’s quintessential bi-annual event, yes, it’s Milan Fashion Week is an unmissable event for all fashion lovers, as well as industry professionals and journalists. The most renowned designers in the world present their collections at the September-October and February-March editions. Milan is a host to the fashion week since 1958. It was the year the first fashion week was held in Milan, and since then it follows the tradition with the ones held in New York and London.
Via Monte Napoleone — Heart of Luxury
Nicknamed ‘Montenapo’ by the Milanese, this luxurious thoroughfare, with the narrow side streets branching off, is one of the most elegant destinations in Milan; also one of the most stylish and expensive in Europe. As the centermost part of the Milan fashion district (Quadrilatero della moda), Via Monte Napoleone is particularly famous for its ready-to-wear clothing- and jewellery shops. Many distinguished Italian fashion designers and shoemakers, as well as those from other countries, have established their exquisite presence here. Exclusive boutiques, headquarters, major offices or large emporia of several of the world's top fashion brands are found in Monte Napoleone. After World War II, Monte Napoleone became one of the foremost fashion destinations, similar to the world's major thoroughfares, like Bond and Oxford Streets in London, Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré in Paris, LA's Rodeo Drive, and New York's Fifth Avenue.
Today, all the big names in fashion are present and accounted for — Bulgari, Burberry, Cartier, Celine, Pucci. This street is synonymous with wealth, good taste, and elegance. The primary entry for great stylists into the fashion world, the windows of Via Monte Napoleone are the reflection of the exquisite taste and ancestral craftsmanship that have given Milan its talent and reputation. The street is also known as an emblem of style and beauty. Brands like Lois Vuitton, Versace and Dior welcome clients globally who want to admire and acquire a piece of Italian refinement for themselves here.
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