Tuesday, June 20, 2006

high fashion, high life

Note: I will try to put up photos from yesterday, so check back for high fashion photos... for now an archival view of the Duomo (and its uncovered facade).

Today I decided to dress in true style, crisp pink shirt, white pants, brown belt and shoes. Today I mean business. People are pretty impressed it seems already. Matilde noted the dapperness before I left and Gaia mentioned it moments after arriving. Watch out Milan.

Speaking of fashion, yesterday I went to the Golden Square and walked around its periphery. The Golden Square, framed by via Manzoni, via della Spiga, Corso Venezia, and via Monte Napoleone, is filled with chichi (no idea how to spell that, nope) boutiques with eccentric and elegant window displays. The interiors of the stores (into which I need to go back and play the role of high fashion conoisseur) are feats of architecture, they are so aesthetically designed. But the clothes, and especially their prices, I thought were all pretty useless. Uselessly expensive. Okay, maybe I wouldn't mind an item or two, but to have such an imposing aesthetic order (where the primp salespeople look like feats of architecture themselves and the window displays and clothing racks look like art exhibits) truly intimidates the casual viewer, the temporal tourist. I went into D&G (blech, for all those brand whores in Milan who flaunt text and names and scream D&G from their belt buckle or sunglasses) and was impressed by the cool design but just didn't dig their desire for edgy raw streetwear that is grossly over-priced. Perhaps there's an upcoming sale? One can only hope. After I left that mirrored madness, I caught a glimpse of some wild chandelier through a courtyard window of Corso Venezia... hidden elegance, the high life of the road of high fashion. Dorota would later tell me of a similar experience where she caught a glimpse of the Barilla family home in the Golden Square which had peacocks strutting about. Mamma mia. Around the corner on Via Monte Napoleone and I found myself in the courtyard of the Armani store with two shallow simple black pools filled with flowers before a coolly aesthetic men's store. It's no wonder the Milanesi have a solid confident attitude, they've got the stores to match. It is something to see, a bit ostentatious, a bit over the top, but then again, it is also the cutting edge of design and an aesthetic wonderland... I'll be sure to return.

The rest of my evening was spent practising a bit of yoga, relaxing, ironing (which the family finds extremely funny eventhough they approve... I think they just appreciate this wild creature who doesn't quite understand Italian but has a way of his own) and chatting with Dorota. We had the meandered from work to Italian politics to the status of women in Italy and the status of queer people in Italy to the duality of nouns in English (Dorota has a theory, and well I couldn't really tell you what it is because I was a bit tired, but it has to do with the arabic duality or something). What I find truly interesting is that Italy is so open with its emotions and so easy-going but at the same time there is a subtle chauvinism that underlies everything. Only when you dig deeper do you discover it. Dorota keeps telling me of the amazing (amazingbad not amazing good) things that students of hers say in class (this one Napolitano said he has never done dishes, doesn't do dishes and will never do dishes, that is the job of the woman). If you come to Italy for a week, you could miss that subtlety. Also, since the Church is pervasive (é dappertutto as I like to say) although no one GOES to church, there are intrinsic ideas that casual sex is bad, mastubation will make you blind and queer people should be shot (the men in Dorota's class upon being asked if their son told them he was gay responded that they would kill him), there is an underlying conservative and intolerant view. It's interesting because the big names in fashion, Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana, Armani, are all gay. But, since they have made a name for themselves, they're alright. Interesting no?

I love sitting down and chatting with Dorota, who claims I am the only one who listens. We get along so well, laugh a lot, and discover things about each other's societies in the best most natural mode of conversation and connection. She's a pretty awesome woman, with lots of language skills, plenty of knowledge and tons of care. Bellissma.

Alright tutti, I am going to read some Italian to learn some more (it's a constant process) but I can feel myself becoming more fluent, already I am starting to think in broken English. Thank god for your emails and this blog :)

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