Milan is heaven on earth for lovers of expensive designer labels such as Versace, Prada and Louis Vuitton. The ‘Golden Triangle’ between Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga and Via Manzoni is home to the largest international brand labels. But there are also many unique boutiques, specialty shops and vintage stores: indeed, it is this varied choice that makes Milan such an attractive shopping destination.
The 47-metre dome of the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was opened in 1877. Architect Giuseppe Mengoni tragically died shortly before the opening when he fell from the roof. The huge glass dome and mosaic floors are spectacular. This gallery, with its bars, restaurants, bookstores and fashion houses, is sometimes known as ‘the living room of Milan’ – although if so, it is the living room of a very chic and fashionable aunt!
The Brera district is located just a short walk or metro ride from the historic centre. It has always been an artists’ neighbourhood, where old houses with beautiful balconies are strung together along charming narrow streets. It’s no surprise that it’s nicknamed ‘little Paris’. As the district has become increasingly popular among yuppies, the artists have since fled to the Navigli district. Today’s Brera comprises many unusual and pricey clothing boutiques as well as affordable shops selling handmade jewellery.
The Via Solferino, for example, is where you’ll find the shop Meru, which started out in 1967 making jewellery out of leather and wool for people who couldn’t afford actual gemstones. Since the composition of the neighbourhood has changed, it is now the rich who come shopping and looking for unique jewellery here. At the vintage shop Cavalli e Nastri just down the street, real fashionistas hope to score unusual retro clothing or jewellery by well-known designers such as Dior, Prada or Paco Rabanne. Originality is the key word.
“Where artists used to live, yuppies come today to buy original handmade jewellery and vintage clothing.”
Brera is known for its wide range of specialty shops. Five to Nine, for example, carries only cotton pyjamas – for all members of the family – in all colours imaginable and in all sizes. And Nicoletta, the proud owner of Profumo, aims to sell only the best and most exclusive perfumes at her shop. The sweet smelling fragrances may be pricey, but they’re also truly exceptional.