Ladies, eat your heart out!!
I had the pleasure of spending just over an hour and a bit with a man who I equate to Milanese royalty, Guglielmo Miani, the young, successful and drop-dead-gorgeous CEO of the luxury Larusmiani brand as well as the President elect of the Via Montenapoleone Association.
The first thing that stood out as Miani’s tall and charismatic figure floated up the stairs to the top floor of his concept boutique was the piercing glare of his big, beautiful blue eyes which I eventually decided to refrain from looking at, just so that it would not paralyze my brain and leave me speechless. Miani took a few minutes to meticulously fix his orange tie for the photo shoot. I then took position next to him and eased him into conversation with some friendly banter or as much of it as I could muster under the circumstances.
I followed Miani to the lower level in the store where he offered me a seat and explained how his grandfather, a tailor by profession gifted with business acumen, opened his first store in 1922 in Via Manzoni before opening the boutique on Via Montenapoleone in 1954. This recently revamped store guarantees a top class shopping experience like none other, with fine aesthetic details like leather-clad stair railings, an in-store fountain feature and spacious change rooms to boot, but what really excites me about the boutique is the Bespoke area with it’s in-house tailor where clients choose their design of collar, fabrics and cuffs.
With his father’s success in the textile industry, the Miani family employs over 40 master tailors who hand-stitch their clothing created from Larusmiani’s own luxury fabrics of which 2 million metres are produced each year . Guglielmo opened his suit jacket to prove the intricacy of their work. He pointed out the 14 hand processes that go into the making of each shirt and also drew my attention to the subtle embroidered seagull symbol on the inside of his jacket. ‘Larus‘ which means ‘seagull’, represents freedom, flight and the families’ ethical values.
Miani is clearly a man who pays attention to details. He picked up a stray speck of paper off the wooden floor and continued to speak in perfect, yet heavily-accented English which he attributes to his 5 years spent in Boston where he studied Entrepreneurship and Finance, skills which he needed to head up the families company for the past 5 years. Miani led me to what looked like a bank vault. Not far off, it was in fact, a specially designed vault door created by Parma Casseforti which resembles the inside mechanics of a watch – a prelude to its contents. The small room houses Miani’s vintage time pieces, some of which are Rolex and Cartier pieces sourced from the 1940’s and beyond as well as a range of prominent collector’s watches by his business partner, Hora . A lover of all things vintage, Miani has also integrated his findings into display features around the store and includes items such as vintage cufflinks and a suitcase for sale.
Miani takes his role as President of the Via Montenapoleone Association, which he has occupied for the past one and a half years, very seriously and is already seeing vast improvements in the way in which the organization is being run. He has significantly grown the number of members from a mere 18 to a whopping 60 participants who are all commonly striving to provide the best possible experience to the people who visit this street while also making it their mission to attract customers to the shopping district all year round by introducing new events that fuse fashion, art, design and Milanese culture. The Montenapoleone Design Experience is an event which sees the street evolve into an open-air, museum-like exhibition that celebrates the best young designers, while store owners bring out champagne and traditional pastries for the La Dolce Vita event.
Miani says that Milan’s place in the world is unmistakable with the city being a source of creativity and a basis for all artisans and it’s no wonder why architects base their studios here, the best design schools are based here and exotic cars are designed and styled here. Despite these truths, Miani is a servant of Milan, devoted to playing his part in polishing and marketing this diamond of a city, thus poising it for further growth, success and helping it to maintain an unshakeable reputation as the fashion capital of the world.
Chatting with Miani was like eating a tray of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Once I started, I did not want to stop discovering each layer of this fascinating being, but it was the final sprinkling of sugar at the end of our meeting which left a lasting, lingering sweetness. I was waiting outside the Larusmiani boutique for a friend when Miani pulled away in his sports car and without any airs or hesitation, he waved at me as he passed by, leaving onlookers with quizzical ‘who on earth is she?’ looks on their faces. Miani did not disappoint me at all and my meeting with him can only be described as both a blessing and a curse for I have finally put a face to perfection but finding this rare combination of intelligence, modesty, success, passion and great genes is in fact an unrealistic expectation which I will unfairly measure every man I meet against.
Photo by Andrea Del Cotto