Welcome to a new Salone. And related Fuorisalone. If you are reading this guide, you have probably never been there. So let’s clarify the basic concepts right away, starting with the basic cliché: Milan is the Italian capital of fashion and design.
Like many other clichés, this is all very true: these are two areas that, among other things, perfectly represent the dual soul of the city. On the one hand, Hapsburgic, selective and aristocratic; on the other, enlightened, democratic and welcoming (“he tmoral capital of the country”, they used to call it). And the city’s dual essence is perfectly represented as much by the armored fashion weeks, with their sequined queue propagating on Instagram, as by the widespread, all-access party that is Design Week.
Design Week’s patrons were and are the industry professionals, the students of design schools in and outside Milan, the enthusiasts and the curious, the adamantine category of Milan’s “sciure” - as we call the well-to-do ladies who inhabit the city’s emblazoned neighborhoods such as Brera or Sempione, the embodiment of the urban aristocracy that, as befits the city of Beccaria, participates fervently in its most democratic and popular events.
And then again Milanese people in general, and people coming from Brianza, Lombardy; Italians, European and international tourists; Americans and Asians who swarmed in cabs from Malpensa and Linate airports to get happily lost among the Fair and the streets of Brera. A multitude of strangers who found themselves sharing at the ora feliz the ritual of the open bar. Milan’s Design Week, historically set for April, had become a big spring festival, where design was the lowest common denominator, but perhaps no longer the real protagonist.
All this came to a halt with Covid, which blew off one edition (in 2020), and postponed another to September (last year’s Fuorisalone) with mixed reactions, between appreciation for the smaller and therefore more “human” edition, and parallel disappointment at the absence of the vulgar display of power that Design Week had been able to offer its attendees over the years.
This year the Salone returns in the spring, but on the finale, when temperatures are raising and Milan turns into the mirror of a sub-tropical capital. For first-comers, but also for those who want to brush up on the fundamentals before relaunching into the design bacchanal, here are the key points to prepare for the event.
Opening image: IQOOS World Reveald, Alex Chinneck for Philip Morris