martedì 30 settembre 2008

Next time I'll keep my mouth shut

Sometimes I think that the great puppeteer in the sky is looking down on my life and laughing til he cries. Having bitched about Milan fashion week, and how mere mortals are effectively excluded from breathing in the same air as the ‘in crowd’ for its duration, I promptly found myself invited to a very exclusive, invitation-only private sale event this weekend at Christian Dior. As it turns out, my best friend’s other half (who works at Ralph Lauren) had two tickets and since he was too busy to go, offered them to us and put our names on the list. Panic stations. What does one wear to an exclusive invitation-only private sale of Christian Dior in Via Montenapoleone? One’s best H&M shirt? A nice pair of boots purchased at Bata in a moment of desperation two years ago? The faded Armani jeans bought in the summer sales in 2004 - an unforgettable moment in which the shop assistant delighted in telling me that my size was the “biggest Armani does”, and “even so they’re a little tight on the hips, no?”.
Knowing it would be a “if your name’s not down, you’re not coming in” situation taken to the extreme, we equipped ourselves with photo ID and tottered down Via della Spiga, into Via Montenapoleone, and straight into the back of a queue of around 50 people. Ah, but we have invitations! We are ON THE LIST…. It turns out that everyone else is too, only they all seem to know how it works and have come prepared in some sort of leggings / ballerina shoes combo, which means that an hour and a half later when the queue hasn’t budged and our eyes are watering with the pain that only high heels can inflict, those around us remain dry-eyed and blister-free.
Two hours in and we’re hungry. By this time there are only 12 people ahead, but it’s a one-in one-out system and no one seems to be in a hurry to get out. I have the brilliant idea to go to the bar on the corner and grab a sandwich and a drink to take away. Sadly, the ‘bar on the corner’ in Via Montenapoleone is Caffè Cova - the only bar on the street, and with prices to rival those at Gucci across the road. My friend thinks it’s hilarious when I return to the queue with two miniature crust-free sandwiches and two miniature 200 ml glass bottles of coke, having spent a grand total of 18 euros…
After two and a half hours of hardcore queuing, we make it to the front of the line, where we are asked for the name of the person who had invited us. Errrrrr….. Well…… It was someone at Ralph Lauren who knows someone who knows someone else who works at Dior. Can we go in now please? One quick panicked called to K’s other half and we’re past the pitbull and on our way up the stairs to ‘the showroom’. No bigger than my living room, it’s stuffed full of clothes, shoes, bags and belts, and looks like a teenager’s bedroom; you couldn’t see the floor for stuff lying around. It’s a complete smash and grab – elbows everywhere, screams of “I found it!!!” and girls fighting like cats over shoes that are too small for them anyway. To be fair, the discounts were enormous – the biggest bargain I saw was a bag which was reduced from 5000 euros to 450. How can a bag possibly be worth 5000 euros in the first place?? I guess it’s all relative.
Much as I would like to say I’m now head to toe in Dior, the truth is I’m back to the day job in my ever-so-slightly-tight-around-the-hips jeans and an old jumper from last year’s Zara sale (or was it the year before…?). I think I’ll leave the high fashion to those in the know.

mercoledì 24 settembre 2008

à la mode

It’s fashion week again and I would just like to dispel a myth:
Living in Milan does not mean that you get to go to fashion shows. It seems like every time I tell someone that I live in Milan, their immediate reaction is “How glamorous – you must meet models all the time!”. Sorry to disappoint folks, but the reality of the matter is that models are usually only seen out in public during fashion week (i.e. twice a year), and then they are on the catwalks by day and holed up in the some dingy “VIP” corner of the latest ‘place to be’ by night, where they spend the entire time going in and out of the toilets in pairs, sniffing and adjusting their nostrils each time they emerge.
To get to see an actual show you have to be, without exception:

The Designer
The Designer’s friends / family / sponsor / hangers-on
A celebrity
A fashion journalist

Just to prove my point I will tell you that my best friend’s boyfriend works for Ralph Lauren in a fairly responsible creative role. He has worked here in Milan for the past 5 years, and has met Ralph himself on more than one occasion during business trips to the New York office. He has even set up and assisted at this season’s New York shows. However, in spite of all of this, he has not yet seen a show here in Milan, has never been able to get tickets or even swing a backstage pass…
Many (mostly American) tourists come to Milan during fashion week assuming that they can buy tickets to the shows when they get here and leave disappointed that the closest they got was standing in the queue for the toilets, watching one model after the other stumble out, dazed and confused. Probably not a million miles from the real thing, but then I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been…

martedì 23 settembre 2008

What next??

I’m very sad to report that this story doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.
Those of you who are aware of the ‘cultural’ ‘phenomenon’ (careful choice of words there..) of the Veline, might know what I’m talking about.
I’m sure I’ve moaned about the Veline before, but realistically when something’s bad enough you can never moan too much, right?
Just in case you don’t know, the Veline are two ‘dancing’ girls, whose job is to turn up and ‘dance’ during the opening and closing titles of a nightly comedy / satire show, and who are replaced every couple of years with younger, sluttier versions. Auditions to become a Velina take the form of an exhaustive national competition, played out on TV every night for what feels like 6 months, during which contestants are required to demonstrate a talent (actual examples include crowing like a hen, skipping with a rope, and bursting balloons with a pin – SERIOUSLY), and gyrate in the direction of the cameras in the skimpiest possible outfits until the cameraman’s eyes pop out. At the end of this very long, very mind-numbing contest, the salivating, mostly male jury decides which pair they prefer (of girls, that is), and the chosen two are launched head-long into a life of wiggling their assets at the nation, appearing in gossip magazines for no apparent reason, and ultimately marrying a footballer, before being bumped off a couple of years later when a man called Antonio Ricci decides it’s time for the new sluts on the block.
The real tragedy in all of this nonsense is that, when questioned, an alarmingly high number of young girls aspired to precisely that – to grow up to be Veline. The below article is a year or so old, but sums up perfectly well the knock-on effect of the situation as it is today.
Last night the latest Veline made their debut on Striscia la Notizia. They were dressed, made up and styled to look exactly like the last ones. They did the same dance. They made the same coquettish smiles at the camera, sat in the same legs-open pose while the (male) presenters congratulated them on their “achievement”, wiping away tears of joy as the (mostly male) studio audience whistled and applauded their efforts.
Now, not only are women putting themselves on public display, but they are doing it with a price tag and added extras. Where is this all going to end?
Is it any wonder that women struggle to be taken seriously here in the Bel Paese??

venerdì 5 settembre 2008

Hum drum

I've not been updating much lately for one simple reason: I genuinely have nothing to say. Isn't that sad and slightly worrying?
I'm waking up at 6:40, catching the 7:57 train to Milan, working till 6 and taking the 6:20 home again. Chat to Luca about our days, drink some prosecco, watch the news, cook, eat, film, bed. Are you bored yet??
Luca’s working on the grape harvest – 8 hours a day of hard labour and all for a genere of wine that neither of us drinks! Slightly fizzy, beetroot-coloured 11% Pinot anyone?? I don’t think so…
The gypsies have moved on but the new challenge is the young couple upstairs who seem to have people over for dinner and / or drinks every night. I have discovered that the walls in our building are made from papier machè. Am also starting to sound like my mother (“Young people these days have no respect… If I want to go to bed at 10:30, then it’s my right to do so….etc. etc….”).
Next weekend I’m taking my two best buds on their first trip to Sardinia. Can’t wait to show them round my old stomping ground, although they have been warned that ex-boyfriends are hiding behind every nuraghe. I suspect I will be very popular for introducing some unexpected end-of-season excitement to the place (I have to be careful what I say otherwise will be forced on pain of death to edit this post..). Suffice to say that Charlize Theron’s twin sister is likely to cause a stir…
Tomorrow morning I have a very important appointment, which is part of a big plan that I can’t talk about yet. Don’t you hate it when people do that?
Let’s just say if all goes well, I’ll (or rather, we’ll) probably be sloshed on Berlucchi by midday. Just for the record, I’m not pregnant. Will post about it as soon as the coast is clear….. It may just be my ticket out of hum-drum. Maybe then I’ll have something vaguely interesting to blog about, who knows?