It is fashion week in Milan. My friend Carmen works for Jil Sander, an international design house on the high end of the spectrum. The Jil Sander fashion show was yesterday. Carmen had invited Mark. Mark is busier than the antacid supplier for Red Sox Nation with his job. Ergo, I went to a my first fashion show yesterday, in Milan at the height of fashion week no less. And as if that wasn’t enough fashion, I continued to gorge myself on fashion all day.
Even before the fashion show began, it was clear to me that I was no longer in Kansas. The security in black suits, stylish facial hair, and radio earpieces. An American woman in a bright pink wrap/shawl/sack making faces like a guppy on stilts. Lots of ankle boots, knee boots, cowboy boots, shiny pointy shoes, big skyscraper heels, sleek black loafers – all of them surely more expensive than my Adidas. As for the models, they were uniformly tall, thin, ethereal, and young, much younger than I expected and young enough that I felt uncomfortable watching them stream by wearing see-through clothing. Most had piercing eyes, jutting chins, and long hair stirred by a breeze that seems only to affect the preternaturally tall and striking. Watching the audience was as good if not better than watching the squeamish-inducing parade of teens in sheer and absurdist clothing. I use clothing here in the broadest sense of the term as some outfits were closer to elaborately folded napkins, cheesecloth made from birds of paradise, dress-size illumination bags for propane lanterns – who could ever wear such things on the street? In many places such a person could get harassed as a clown without a permit. Some appeared to have fallen from spider webs woven of diaphanous spools. Their faces reminded me of elves and aliens I have seen. I obviously know very little about fashion.
[After reading my uneducated review, perhaps you would care to see what the NY Times reporter thought.]
After the show, I had the pleasure of hanging around afterwards with the company’s employees as they came back down to earth, some investors, a few models, the hairdressers, and others associated with the show. Word on the terrace was that the show had been a great success. The important people had liked it, and everyone could relax a bit. The prosecco and finger sandwiches were plentiful. My sense of dislocation was also great - isn't that the castle? Where am I? Who am I?
To continue unspooling the fashion thread, Carmen and I spent the afternoon shopping. For me, this activity usually involves the transaction of goods and money or credit and is to be spoken of with a mix of trepidation and guilty disdain. Out on the town in Milan, I was reminded that shopping can be free and eye-opening. Carmen did not find the definitive dress for her friend’s wedding, but she was once again an excellent guide. While I would probably need to mow one lawn every 37 seconds without stopping to eat or sleep for the next 12 years to pay for the clothes I tried on, I enjoyed the game of trying on expensive outfits. Domenico acted as Virgil and led me expertly through the experience.
As a cherry on top of the ridiculous day, Mark, Carmen, and I strolled over to a party hosted by Marie Claire UK at Mozart’s former house. More prosecco, beautiful fashionable people, expensive artwork, jaw-dropping setting. Pretty standard really. This is the way I roll now that I live in bel paese. [Mile grazie, Carmen, Mark, e Domenico.]