Wow! Where do I start? I am soaking wet from the pouring rain but slowly defrosting after spending the most memorable night out yet on Milan’s main vein, Via Montenapoleone, Via Verri and Via Sant Andrea. Fashion Week has nothing on this 4-day event, called La Vendemmia, which if I had to translate it would be to “harvest the grapes for wine-making”. Yup, it has everything to do with sampling wines from around the world in the different high-end boutiques and touring vineyards, but for someone like me who has never sipped an alcoholic beverage, the event takes on a slightly different significance; my “harvested grapes” are all the VIPs that I have met this evening – important connections which will ferment with time into rich, fruitful relationships.
I was invited to attend La Vendemmia by the Via Montenapoleone Association, so I arrived ahead of schedule to collect my VIP pass into all the participating boutiques. My first stop was the luxurious Larusmiani concept boutique where I greeted the owner, Guglielmo Miani and went on to sample some salmon and Parmigiano cheese while admiring the tailored suits, ties, cuffs and collars too.
Here I am with Monica Bottigelli, Guglielmo’s sister and young designer, Alice Etro’s mum.
I crossed over to the family-owned Damiani jewellers where the dark chocolate treats competed for attention with handcrafted adornments enclosed in glass.
I couldn’t help vocally expressing my delight when I saw this breathtaking diamond “snake”, and it just so happened that standing right next to me at the time was Silvia Damiani. She insisted that I try the bracelet on, explaining that it was designed by her brother, Giorgio Damiani. It took a minute or two to wind it around my thin wrist and well, naturally the entire episode was captured by a blinding number of camera flashes. It is comprised of 900 brilliant diamonds and 2 metres of gold, and I am pretty sure that I have never worn anything quite so precious in all my life.
I may look a little dilly in this picture but let’s just blame it on the glare from all those diamonds
I joined my colleagues and friends, Isa and Alessandra, to Agent Provocateur, the boutique with the sexiest lingerie, bedroom attire and other naughty bits.
Our next stop was the newly refurbished Fedeli boutique, manufacturers of top quality cashmere garments. I was lucky enough to meet the third generation owners of the family business, Mr Gigi Fedeli and his lovely wife, Gloria. Obsessed with South Africa, having visited five times already, they gifted me with a beautiful book that documents the entire Fedeli story.
Our visit to Gucci was just plain amusing and every time I think about, I giggle. The multi-level boutique was brimming with people but the eccentric owner of the Nonino distillery that Gucci had partnered with, loved me for no particular reason. She took me by the wrist, cleared the crowd from our path and lead me all the way downstairs to meet her daughter. She was just so entertaining and talkative, and even though she only spoke Italian, I understood every word purely because of her expressive voice and uninhibited gestures. I won’t lie, I loved the special treatment
Finally, we decided to head up the marble staircase of the Simonetta Ravizza boutique. From the street, you will never know what an opulent shopping experience you are missing so if you find yourself in Milan, check out the elegant, contemporary fur and leather designs that hang here. I complimented a woman on her beautiful bling shoes and the next thing I knew, I had made a new friend, Claudia Sclavi.
La Vendemmia continues until Sunday 13 October so I guess I will be heading off to the Quadrilatero Della Moda for the next few days to see what the hotels and restaurants in the area have to offer. And who knows? Perhaps you’ll get to join me next year…
Visit the La Vendemmia website for more information.