The fashion capital of the world wears the Christmas festivity with an understated grace but full-on style.
The glitter is full on; the lights sparkling bright and the decorations out in their full potential, as the city of Milan heralds yet another festive season. It’s Christmas time, and the fashion capital of the world wears the festivity well—with an understated elegance but never short on style.
It is, in fact, the style that you encounter on every possible occasion and at every possible place, also remaining the lasting impression of one of Italy’s main cities. It starts with the people, of course, who all seem to have just stepped off the ramp—always well-dressed and well-heeled, be it commuters on the subway or guests in a luxury hotel lobby. The style quotient shoots up as you venture toward the centre of the city, especially Montenapoleone, also known as the fashion district. Luxury brands woo shoppers with window displays that stun with their elegance as they line the beautifully-lit cobbled streets. Tod’s with its tiered display of shoes and bags; Prada with ‘Pradamalia’, its new family of mysterious creatures; Louis Vuitton with its in-your-face bling, or a single stunning dress by Akris.
Within the shops, like the well-known 10 Corso Como, every nook and corner is a lesson in design. Imagine a red-lips sofa placed in front of a golden and red stained glass window, with funky birds and fish hanging from the chandelier above. On retail are a couple of dresses on either side, but it’s the décor and the atmosphere that compel the visitor to indulge in buying from a shop that looks just so nice.
In the ‘new’ Milan, glass skyscrapers rub shoulders with rotund wooden structures and a little beyond, the award-winning Vertical Forest symbolising nuovo like nothing else. At Magna Pars, a perfume factory-turned-hotel, suites in all-white décor elicit a spontaneous wow.
But this is also the city of Leonardo da Vinci and opera and Gothic cathedrals. The artist’s influence remains not only among contemporary artists, but the city’s innards as well, like the quaint Navigli district, which da Vinci proposed to improve in many ways. Once a big network of canals, only a few are open now, home to nightlife and charming bars and restaurants. Incidentally, the city is readying to celebrate the 500th anniversary of his death next year with a calendar of events that will showcase the work he carried out in multiple areas, evoking the Milan da Vinci knew.
And right in the middle of the city sits the huge Duomo cathedral, housing some of the finest artworks in stained glass, surrounded by the intricate design of the over 300 spirals of the building. Elegance obviously began in the city centuries ago.
Interestingly, getting to Milan from India is now just a matter of hours, with Air Italy introducing thrice-a-week, non-stop flights from Delhi and Mumbai, the only carrier to do so. In just over eight hours, one can reach the fashion capital, which could be of particular interest to Indians given its proximity to Lake Como, the destination for recent celebrity weddings.
The return journey is just seven hours, made comfortable with the warm and effusive staff and an extremely spacious business class cabin that is rarely to be seen in commercial flights. Stay at the Exelcior Gallia, which is not only a luxury property, but also right in the middle of the city and facing the central railway station from where high-speed trains to other Italian cities and Lake Como are available.