Today was a much shorter day than yesterday. After a later start to the day, we walked to 10 Corso Como. We had already gotten a chance to peak in during our walking tour of Milan, but this time we discussed some of its background before having some time to explore the entire store. 10 Corso Como is known for having a new take on shopping. On the different floors you can see not only fashion garments and accessories, but also furniture, books, a coffee bar, and a photo gallery. On your way in, you get a taste of the original architecture with a green courtyard enclosed by balconies and windows into the store. This idea of incorporating the surrounding area so integrally into the design of the store by naming the store after its address and maintaining the traditional courtyard is also part of the fusion between lifestyle and fashion that 10 Corso Como – and to a degree all of Milanese fashion – strive for.
After leaving the store and beginning our fashion walking tour, we learned a little about how important courtyards have been to the Italian culture and history. The typical facade of an Italian building will be simple and plain. This is because the beauty and elegance is meant for the inside – the tiled courtyards and furnished interiors – not to be shown off. This style of living manifests in other ways, too. For example, the idea of family being private and also being the most important relationship follows this idea of holding inside the truly beautiful without needing to display it to outsiders. This also explains why we learned that it is a significant honor to be invited back to someone’s home; it is like exposing your true self and implies a certain trust and familiarity. It is also a principle shown in the fashion industry, with articles of clothing that have subtle elements complemented by patterns on the inside, invisible to anyone while it is worn. One such garment was on display at the Armani museum. Nevertheless, this hidden beauty can improve how the clothing is received, since the wearer will know of the preciousness of the clothing and will therefore carry it differently. It’s this philosophy that carries into Italian nationality and heritage, contributing to the intense pride they feel as a whole in their culture and identity, even generations after immigrating to the United States.
Once in the fashion district, we learned a bit of the history of Milan and how it became the fashion capital of the world. For most of its past, Milan was more canal than street. Back in the days of Leonardo da Vinci they built up a system of locks to ease ships from one elevation to another and used this system to stay connected to the south of Italy and the sea. Only after the canals were covered by streets and after the reconstruction after the world wars ended, did fashion really become a staple in Milan. During this time there were shifts in fashion, brought about by people like Armani, when casual wear began to take shape and prêt-a-porter was coming into existence. Around the same time, there was a student revolution in Italy. These revolutionaries saw keeping up with the fashion as essential to dressing properly, especially as a symbol of innovation and change. The area that is now called “the golden block” for fashion was a street of convents and was not known to house upper class families until very recently. Once prêt-a-porter fashion began to grow and the release of the movie American Gigolo displayed Armani’s designs to the world, Milan and its fashion weeks became popular very quickly around the world. I was actually surprised at how recent this revolution seemed, and actually many of the top fashion buildings here in Milan were built in the last 10-15 years (so it’s younger than I am)!
As you can see, our day was not nearly as packed as yesterday, since instead of 3 activities that ended at 7pm, we had one activity that ended by 1pm. Nevertheless, I had a great day and look forward to a quiet evening watching the rain and resting up before leaving Milan in the morning.