Un giro with Guglielmo Miani

We know the Milanese are among the world’s most chic. From head to toe, from the moment their bespoke shoe steps onto the parquet floor of their palazzi to the evening’s last glass of wine, there is not one accessory forgotten, not one hair out of place, not one minor brutta figura to forever be remembered by everyone at the Marchesi counter on Monte Napoleone.

How do they accomplish it? Simply put, it’s in their blood. So, if you’re not a Milanese born and bred, how can you replicate the effortless style and sophistication? Step into Milan’s most storied and highly regarded maisons, and you will begin to understand the layers beneath this fold.

Larusmiani began strictly as a tailor shop in 1922, when Guglielmo Miani quickly made a name for himself as one of the most in-demand Italian designers to an illustrious clientele; among them: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Fausto Coppi, and Walter Chiari. Totò, the Italian comedian nicknamed “Prince of Laughter” was a close friend and frequent client. This is quite ironic considering that Totò was Neapolitan; a southerner wearing a Milanese is like a Catholic Italian changing religion. By 1954, there were 5 boutiques, including the Concept Boutique on Via Monte Napoleone, and the business began producing top quality textile collections to meet the growing demands of Italian and French designers. Today, 40 master tailors take meticulous care with the finest quality Italian materials and the classic yet contemporary designs that speak to the modern Milanese. Never one to pause in its progression, a women’s collection was introduced in 2012. Larusmiani is a story of a company that has never lost sight of its unsurpassed reputation for incredible quality, its advancement with the inevitable changes of time and taste, and its family heritage.

Today, Larusmiani’s flagship is a showcase of exceptional style and sophistication, an incredibly smart space that feels far more personalized than most other luxury boutiques. In fact, I could imagine picking it up and placing it down a few blocks farther north; it would be an incredibly chic apartment, already fit with his and hers dream dressing rooms. It comes as no surprise that the space was designed by the late David Collins, the master eye chosen by celebrities and hoteliers, whose projects include the Connaught Bar, Claridges Bar, and The Wolseley.The flagship’s redesign and current state of extraordinary taste can be credited entirely to the current president and third generation Miani: Guglielmo. 40-year-old Guglielmo is known around town for his astute entrepreneurial mindset. Not only does he work on each of the collections through the entire creative process, but also his unique ability to balance timeless sophistication with an innovative lens keeps the brand moving forward. Having stepped into the role at a far younger age than most CEOs of his caliber, he brings a fresh appeal to a storied brand, a sure-footed step when others might be prone to falling into line with the pack. Peruse the website and you will find whippet style rules set over vintage black and white photos. “Never white socks, unless you are the owner of a yacht. Never a dark blue suit before sundown, just like whiskey.”

I meet Guglielmo in the Concept Boutique for a spin around the store. He is as chic as his reputation and myriad instagram photos suggest; the effortlessly alluring Milanese man personified and an unintentional testament to the transformational capabilities of the Larusmiani line.

“Feel this.” He lifts the arm of a double-breasted handmade cashmere cincilla and silk coat. He gestures to the shoulder seam of a jacket and asks me if I know the different between a Milanese cut and a Neapolitan cut. I give him my blank face, the one I save for when someone mistakenly thinks I can understand their rapid-fire Italian. This is a man who knows his fabrics, expert methods of tailoring, and the many style revolutions that the company has seen in its nearly 100-year history.

We go upstairs to the private women’s shop, a dreamlike room of light, airy colors, it diffuses femininity as if it’s coming out of the velvet walls. Display cases offer a taste of the Larusmiani women’s world: exquisite perfume atomizers, furs, pony skin baguettes, bespoke jewelry boxes made from ficus sycomorus wood, and of course, the women’s collection. There is a piece for every occasion, every turning point in the day, in other words, a complete wardrobe for the female Milanese’s schedule (or those who strive to dress like one).

Next we step into the gentleman’s bespoke, appointment-only room. A matchlessly designed fabric fall offers the client the opportunity to mix and match infinite combinations of Larusmiani handmade fabrics, creating a unique and impossible-to-replicate style.

We take the elevator down to a totally different kind of toy chest: that of Aldo Lorenzi. Guglielmo’s passion for exceptional Milanese products, born from the truest ‘Made in Italy’ classification, is exemplified in the recreation of the original Lorenzi boutique. When the historic Lorenzi decided to retire and close his shop, formerly next to Laurismiani on Via Monte Napoleone, Guglielmo would not have it. He understood immediately what the Milanese would be missing if Lorenzi were to close his doors, and furthermore, he felt the impact and the significance of the disappearance of a Milanese gem. The two visionaries share a dream for igniting passions and keeping them alive. Thus Guglielmo brought Lorenzi under his helm. Here you will find a cinematic display of one-of-a-kind toiletries, shaving kits, kitchenware, smoking and desk accessories, knives, and other exquisite, hand-made items. Guglielmo is now starting to design and create additional handmade items in a similar style, as the original Lorenzi merchandise is sold to loyal clientele and those discovering the ‘new’ Lorenzi for the first time.

I am overwhelmed by the incredible one-of-a-kind products in this ‘layer’ of the shop; everything is handmade, that goes without saying but the uniqueness of each piece, the impressiveness of an overwhelmingly large knife set, exquisite boxes, a treasure for every day of the week for the rest of time. Guglielmo stands by with patience as I ooh and ahh, a feint, humble smile on his face. He tells me how, one hundred years ago, gentlemen used to carry their own knives to restaurants. I would assume this might be considered rude, sort of like bringing your own bread, instead it was very much the norm. ‘Shall we go to lunch?’

We nestle into a garden table at one of Guglielmo’s favorite spots: Il Bacaro del Sambuco on Monte Napoleone, a classic, family-run restaurant known for their handmade pasta. Guglielmo chooses one of his favorite pastas without looking at the menu, I choose a fish (when in Milan), and over a glass of Chianti, we dive into the heart of the matter.

Your favorite hotel in the world:

Villa d’este. It embodies the true Italian culture and lifestyle. I have a house on Lake Como, and I tend to go to Villa d’Este for lunch or dinner. Actually, I often go from Milan just for dinner, since it is so close to the city, so that I can be at peace and experience a truly different ambience and feeling than Milan.

What recent trip has inspired you the most:

California, where I often to go for pleasure and business. I recently visited Joshua Tree Park, and The Parker in Palm Springs is an incredibly beautiful and special location. I was taken with it, I decided to shoot the Larusmiani Spring/Summer 17 collection in that location. It has a unique ‘groovy’ yet luxurious and relaxed atmosphere.

Your go-to restaurant for a business lunch in Milano:

I tend to go to hotels, like the Mandarin, Bulgari, Four Seasons, Gallia, Baglioni, and of course, the Bacaro, which is a truly unique restaurant and to me one of the best in Italy.

Your go-to caffe in Milano: 

For coffee, if I am in Montenapoleone, I go to Marchesi or Cova. But I also often go to Camparino, the oldest bar in Milano, in the Galleria. It used to be called Bar di Passo, because the Milanese would be passing through the Galleria, stop for a campari at the bar, and continue on to La Scala. It is owned by my family; my grandfather bought it many years ago. I enjoy spending time at the bar or sitting down at one of the tables with a view of the galleria. It’s one of those timeless Milanese spots.

Your favorite Milano neighborhood for a weekend stroll: 

The MonteNapoleone district. I am often in Milan during the winter, so I take advantage and do a little shopping and some sightseeing- Palazzo Morando and Bagatti Valsecchi are both very special to me. I also love Christmas in Milan, and MonteNapoleone organizes a very beautiful Christmas experience.

Where would you live if you didn’t live in Milan:

There isn’t another city that I would choose over Milan. If I didn’t live here, I would live on a boat. I love the sea; it has always been an inspiration, and it relaxes me. I’ve always been a big sailor. I’ve crossed the Atlantic and I’ve done my fair share of regattas. I think, however, if I must be very specific, that if I lived on a boat it would have to be a motor boat; the comfort level is quite different than that of a sail boat.

Where do you go when you want to escape for the weekend:

From very early Spring until November, I spend every weekend in the Cote d’Azur where I have a house in the Cap Ferrat. I enjoy the sea, my friends, and the beautiful landscape. Otherwise I go to Como.

Your most recent memorable meal: 

Davide Oldani’s D’O in Cornaredo, a small town twenty minutes outside Milan. Davide is probably the most talented chef in Italy today. His food is outstanding; I would certainly travel far and wide for Davide.

Your go-to shoe:

In the summer, I am almost always wearing Friulane’s, a Venetian style that Larusmiani makes in many different colors. Otherwise I often pair sneakers with elegant attire.

If you could import one international ‘cultural practice ’to Italy, what would it be:

I would love to see the government give tax breaks to entrepreneurs and private companies for charitable education donations, in order to improve the level of education in Italy. This is a topic very dear to me; I believe we have a long way to go in regards to education.

Larusmiani. Via Monte Napoleone 7. Milano.

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