Adventures in Milan

In the fashion world September means one thing, fashion week, and the spring/summer collections are about to walk down runways in cities across the globe. In New York there is fashion week and as a design student I’m far from oblivious to it, but this fashion week in Milan was really the first time I felt like I was involved in the process and not just another spectator. Our first academic trip this year was to Milan during as you might have guessed fashion week. Yet because this was an academic trip it afforded us additional opportunities. We could see things that on our own we would have never had access to.

It started with our arrival in Milan, first stop the Duomo. Personally this was one of my favorite parts of the trip, the building its self has such remarkable detail one can’t help but be awe inspired. The Duomo in Milan stands out though more than just because of its size, it’s the 3rd largest church in Europe and took 800 years to build, but because unlike other Italian churches it’s a gothic cathedral, more like Notre Dame than say the Duomo in Florence. One of the characteristics of a gothic cathedral is the amount of detail that goes into the structure, it is covered in statues and carvings that create little hidden surprises that you can find as you turn each corner. We got to take a roof tour we gave us a remarkable opportunity to see not only the building up close but afforded us a spectacular view of the square below.

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Next we went to Vogue’s who’s next, an exhibition of sorts that show cases up and coming designers and their work. What was interesting about this is that the ideas that these designers are presenting are a new point of view, which is why I like that more attention is being given to these remarkably talented people. After that we went to Corso Como 10, a unique gem that’s a cross between a department store and charming boutique. In many ways it seems like this fairy tale that’s hidden in this busy metropolis, from the outside all you see is an arch way with a sign overhead but walk through and your transported into someplace completely different. There’s a little courtyard cafe that’s surrounded by greenery that you walk through to enter the store. The colors are simple mostly black and white with greys here and there and the occasional pop of color, mostly due to the clothes, and with décor that gives it a sense of airy whimsy. Because it is a concept store you’re going to see things here that you would elsewhere, yet that is what makes it so fabulous.

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The next day featured what was the favorite stop for many, the Dolce and Gabbana factory. As a design major this visit was actually extremely insightful. It exposed us to what happens after you create your design going from ‘oh this is a cool idea’ to it being sold in a store. There are a deceptively large amount of steps to the process. We saw how they created the patterns for each garment and worked of the fabric layout to ensure the least amount of waste possible, to the people who checked all of the fabric that came through for imperfections or those who created all of the sample and runway garments. In the afternoon we went to the White trade show, which consisted of different companies and designers who were each presenting what they thought the future of fashion, might be. So not next spring, but the spring after, each designer had their own take on different upcoming trends.

d&g lakecomo               Our last day of the trip took place not in Milan but in Como, known in the fashion industry for its textile production and printing. We got the chance to visit the Ratti factory and archives. The Ratti factory is one of the better-known factories producing fabrics for the likes of Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, and Valentino. What is so amazing about the Ratti factory is that they do everything there in house, they take the threads weave them into fabric and then print them using multiple different methods. At the archives they were featuring an exhibit on Emilio Pucci, who had had a lot of his fabrics printed by Ratti in the 1950’s. When they went back through their archives they found they had several examples of his prints, with original sketches and test prints along with swatches of the final fabrics. We were also shown some of the textiles that they have in their archives, some dating back to the Renaissance, each one we were shown had it’s own kind of artistry to it. I saw so many amazing things on this trip it has only made me want to go out and see so much more.

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A Trip To Italy’s Fashion Capital

To say how crazy it is that I have been here in Florence for a month already is a complete understatement. The weeks seem to go by so fast, and the weekends speed by even faster. Having Fridays off is great and it allows for more time to travel, whether it be inside Italy or to another country. I have been trying to keep a list of all of the amazing restaurants, stores, gelaterias, etc. that are my favorite, but I just can’t find enough time to  jot everything down!

Day at the Duomo di Milano

Day at the Duomo di Milano

This past weekend (from Sunday to Tuesday) all 70 of us FIT students made our way to the fashion capital of Italy. We arrived early Sunday morning and from there we began our adventure. Our trip started out with us dropping off our luggage to our hotel and then making our way to the “Super Collections” trade show that was occurring. Once we were there we walked around and looked at all of the amazing merchandise that was being shown. It was great to see merchandise at an international trade show, as most of the merchandise, let alone brands, were all very unfamiliar to me. I was personally able to see a multitude of brands and companies that are not shown at trade shows in the U.S. During the trade show, we were all able to complete our findings for two of our fashion merchandising classes which was very helpful.

Top Of The Duomo

Top Of The Duomo (Samantha Seltzer, Teresa Kelly, Kayleigh Folster, Caitlyn Hansen, Hannah Charles and Kathleen Arias)

After we left the trade show we took the metro to the Duomo and from there we began to see the real city of Milan. Milan fashion week was occurring while we were still there and Milan is of course, known for its one of a kind fashion. Stores on every corner and people bustling throughout the city streets. We were fortunate enough to take a guided tour of the Duomo di Milano which led us up the stairs of the Duomo itself and out on the main rooftop. While sitting there, it was an unbelievable feeling, to actually sit and think of where I was sitting in that very moment.

Monday rolled around quite soon, and our day was full of fashion visits and a trip to Como to see the silk factories and textile factories.  Our FMM group was split into two and I visited the Mantero Factory. It was amazing to get to see how brands such as, Gucci, Vivienne Westwood and Valentino print their silk scarfs. There were silk screen printing and  digital printing. It was interesting to see which form companies print their merchandise on. Higher end brands normally print through silk screen printing since it takes longer and to uses more materials and lower end companies use digital printing. Having observed both, they seemed both very efficient and both of good quality. After visiting the factory we were able to see the archives of the Mantero company and view their oldest fabrics and books used. Once that was over we were able to enjoy the rest of Como and take in all of its beauty. Como is a very pretty city and very quiet (now I know why George Clooney chose to have a house there). The lake is beautiful and relaxing and after lunch my friends and I ate a gelato as we walked around the lake.

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Gucci Print at Mantero Factory

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Archived Fabrics From Mantero

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1938 Chanel Advertisement

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Lake Como

After a full two days on Sunday and Monday, Tuesday was just as busy. Fortunately, we were able to wake up later and get in as much sleep as we could (I mean, what college student doesn’t love their sleep?) Anyway, Tuesday morning we were off to have private store visits of both the Excelsior and LaRinascente department stores. Both of which are two very different stores targeted to two very different demographics of customers. The Excelsior store is on the more higher and exclusive end of the spectrum and LaRinascente is targeted toward the higher end everyday shopper, almost like a Bergdoff Goodman’s or higher end Bloomingdales. After our tour we were headed over to the Chagall Exhibit that was going on. We had a guided tour as well, and it was very informative and interesting to hear about Marc Chagall’s inspiration and life as an artist. After looking through the exhibit it was time to hangout and tour Milan on our own. From there we shopped, ate lunch and took in as much as we could.

Pizza From Milan

Pizza From Milan

After a long three, exciting, yet tiresome days of fashion and travel, it was time to head back to Florence. We took a 7:30 train and we were back to Florence around 9:30. It was a great trip and an overall wonderful experience. I loved seeing all the sites and gaining the first hand knowledge from the factories and tours. After this trip, I can’t wait to see all of the other wonders that are out there. Arrivederci!

Is This Really My Home?

I landed my butt in Florence just over two weeks ago and it has been nothing short of a whirlwind. Between a day and a half of flying, a time change, and a culture shock, I am still settling into the way of life here. Now I am at the halfway point in my second week of school and I’m finally feeling like this could possibly be real life and not just a foggy daze that I am happily stuck in. Florence is, in just a few words, beautiful, amazing, delicious, hot, quaint, and slightly overwhelming at the moment! The next nine months of my life are going to be set in a different time zone, city, country, and continent… it’s safe to say that it takes some getting used to.

This was the point during which I wondered if I could actually wheel both these suitcases while carrying a backpack and second carry on!

This was the point during which I wondered if I could actually wheel both these suitcases while carrying a backpack and second carry on!

Upon touching down here in Italia, a few major differences have come to mind right away. Florence has no idea what a grid system is and having decided to only use my phone with Wi-Fi, I had my head in a tiny map with twisty semi-labeled roads for my first few days here! I decided to take my first run in Florence just the other day as an attempt to burn off a small percentage of the carbs I have taken in since being here. I figured if I ran straight, I could simply turn around, but of course the street I was on ended so I just took a turn. I ran twisting around streets for about 20 minutes and suddenly ended up on my very own street… without trying to. All I can say is that at least I tried to exercise.

My pretty little cappucino

My pretty little cappucino

A second major difference is the price of food and drinks here. After living in New York City for two years, I expect a coffee to be nothing short of $2.50. My now daily cappuccino, that I order “take away” en route to class, costs me 1.20 Euro, or $1.54. It even comes with a chocolate design doodled into the steamed milk each morning, something I am sure Starbucks would have charged me extra for.

My five Euro sandwich- turkey, mozzarella, arugula, zucchini, tomatoes and truffle spread

My five Euro sandwich- turkey, mozzarella, arugula, zucchini, tomatoes and truffle spread.

A panini down the street from my apartment is just 3.50 Euro and the best sandwich I have ever tasted was only 5.00 Euro and a short walk away. The prices can definitely go up from there, but as a girl on a budget I’m content with seeking out the best deals.

I have chosen to live alone during my time here and so far I am enjoying this decision. My rent is not even close to what I would be paying if I lived in New York alone and though my apartment is small, it’s certainly enough room for one person. My apartment is a short walk to my friends’ apartments, bars (a bar is a coffee shop here), stores for everything I may need, and the Mercato Centrale. Mercato Centrale is the most amazing fresh market with fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads, meats, and fish- it’s a quick stop to get ingredients for whatever I am in the mood to cook. Apartment hunting, although stressful, ultimately worked out. Life seems to have assured that each of us made it where we were supposed to be. Now that I have a place to return home to at the end of the day that feels like my own, it’s much easier to picture Florence as my life and not just a temporary vacation. That being said, it’s a life I am most certainly getting used to.

Exploring Firenze... and wishing this was my front gate

Exploring Firenze… and wishing this was my front gate

I am trying to slowly, but surely explore the city. Everywhere I walk I think “Oo I should eat there” or “Wow that place looks awesome.” I have to keep reminding myself that there is plenty of time in nine months to stop back at these places and I don’t have to stock up on every croissant or gelato flavor all at once (although it is tempting to do just that). The most important part of being here for me is to just see it all and take it all in. I’m constantly pushing myself to get out and walk around even when it’s only me. How else will I see all the secret beauties within these city walls?

Everyone says that traveling is easy in Florence and Europe and through Polimoda I took my first trip this past weekend to “Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre.” Cinque Terre was a two-hour bus ride to some of the most gorgeous views I have ever seen. We had the option to hike or go to the beach and the active side of me(and the side that’s been eating all the carbs) chose the hike. Though they made it seem easy, it was quite the uphill climb, but each step and my one wipe out, was more than worth it. As you climbed up the hills you walked past rows and rows of grapes growing in thick bunches. The views were absolutely incredible as you looked out at the jagged coastline created by the Mediterranean Sea. It was breathtaking to stop and see the lush, green mountainside, with the small clusters of colorful homes nestled together down near the sea. After the hike, I took a dip into the Mediterranean Sea. Prior to leaving I ordered homemade pasta with homemade pesto, a Cinque Terre specialty. It was a fulfilling day in just about every way.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

My Italian adventure is just beginning and I can’t wait to keep sharing it. For now, arrivederci!

The Beginning Of An Italian Adventure

Thinking back to the day I submitted my application to study abroad in Florence for the semester truly does seem like forever ago. Upon my arrival to Florence I really didn’t know what to expect nor did I think I should have any expectations. Florence has so much to offer whether it be the immense amount of delicious gelato, the Florentine Fleur-de-lis scattered throughout the beautiful city, wine being cheaper than water, aperitivo, which is more or less a happy hour with food, amazing art and architecture such as The David, The Ponte Vecchio and The Duomo are just to name a few of the amazing things here in Florence.

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Leaving JFK and Headed to MXP (with Samantha Seltzer, Caitlyn Hansen, Lauren Turkowski, Marisa Miller)

370,000 people make up this beautiful city and 15,000 American students come to study each year. After arriving to Florence, less than two weeks ago, I can definitely say that I already couldn’t be happier with my choice to come and study here for the next four months. Traveling from JFK, NY to Milan and then from Milan to Florence, was a complete adventure in and of itself. Luckily, I had the opportunity to travel with some of my best friends and of course that made the experience 10x better. I can ultimately say that I had no idea what to expect when arriving at the MXP airport in Milan. It was all so different and all so new that it  didn’t seem right for me to have any expectations. I felt that it would be best to “roll with the punches” and make the best of whatever comes my way, because how many times do you get to study abroad in Florence, Italy?

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View of Florence from San Niccolò Tower

Once arriving to Florence, my friends and I stayed in a hostel for a few days to get acclimated and get orientated with school and transition ourselves from our “American ways”. It is truly so interesting and funny to see how different Italians are from Americans. For starters, most of the stores and businesses were closed for the month of August for a vacation more or less. They close their stores around 2-3 everyday for a lunch break. They use a different sized paper than we do (they use A4), they have a different garbage system than us, tipping waiters/waitresses, as well as cab drivers, is unheard of and people normally never do it (unfortunately, we learned the hard way and ended up tipping our cab driver 5 euro the first day we got here, but i’m pretty sure we made his day much better). Most of the Italians here do all speak English, but it is all very broken English and can be hard to communicate sometimes, but I like that because I look at that as a challenge and a way to push myself to learn as much Italian as possible. Wine is cheaper than water (literally) and tap water isn’t served at restaurants and is looked at as kind of funny if you request it. If you want an Latte (like the type you order in America) do not just ask for a latte because a latte here is just milk, and of course my friend Marisa got served steamed milk and it was hilarious and a learning experience. We ended up walking over 10 miles everyday last week and over 20,000 steps each day (I know this all thanks to my wonderful Fitibit tracker) so gaining weight shouldn’t be such a worry and that just means more room for gelato.

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First Night In Florence With Friends (with Samantha Seltzer, Caitlyn Hansen, Marisa Miller, Lauren Turkowski, Teresa Kelly, Christie Suozzo & Alexandria Marini)

We have seen the Duomo (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore) located in the Piazza del Duomo, the San Niccolò Tower, The Ponte Vecchio and more and more each day we are here. We found an apartment the third day we were here and got it as soon as we could. We moved in and so far we love it. There are two bedrooms, a large living space, a kitchen and two bathrooms. School is only a 7 or 10 minute walk for us so we love the easy commute. There are 70 FIT students here in Florence, attending Polimoda and we all take the same classes, with the same teachers with the same students. There are a mix of fashion design students as well as fashion merchandising students.

I have plans to travel and I hope to see as much as I can. Being here was one of the best decisions I have made and I know how much I will love looking back on this experience. I want to meet new people, experience different cultures and gain new perspectives of the worlds around me. This was a blessing to be given such an amazing opportunity (thank you again mom and dad) and I want to take full advantage of this time, even if it does mean emptying my wallet…completely. I am excited to write more posts of all of the fashions, adventures and experiences that I will come across during my stay here. So for now, ciao and arreverdici!

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First Day In Florence, Italy–August 24th,204

 

 

Fun academic trip to Linea Pelle

On the past Wednesday all the design major students went to a trade show with our professors in Bologna, we got to get outside of Florence again and it was such an amazing trade show! Its name is called:Linea Pelle.

Linea Pelle is basically a Leather, synthetic fabrics and accessories show. There were four buildings just for showing leathers, and rest of them were for other fabrics and etc. It was crazy for how many different kinds of leathers that we saw, and more important is the techniques they use for create different affects in leathers. It was amazing.

I also love the trend area, that was actually my favorite part of the entire trade show. We got to see the trend for 2015 spring and summer, just like it was in Premiere Visione in Paris, but I think this one is more fun and contains lots of new and interesting things! Fabrics that made of plastic, synthetic leather, what we called scuba fabric…everything, just gave me lots and lots of inspirations!

At the end I saw this amazing 3D printed shoes. They were unbelievable, the hole shoes was made by layers and layers putting together, which are all printed by 3D printer, they are metal –like and looks very heavy, but actually when you hold it, it feels just like paper. Well instead of print paper only, 3D printer right now can print all kinds of material, which is the progress of the technique, I am really happy to see it!

Unfortunately the whole trade show didn’t allow me to take any pictures, but I did find some pictures online, hope you all gets the spirit! blog1

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pictures from www.zanzanisrl.com

This is the company who makes these amazing shoes!