Not content with being just one of the Big Four global fashion capitals alongside New York, London and Paris, Milan deftly manages to offer some of the most exciting and innovative cuisine to be found in Europe. Thoughts of Milan as an 'industrial' city, full of concrete buildings, which lack the more refined elegance of Rome or the wondrous scenery of Tuscany have been firmly left in the past, thanks in part to the arrival of World Expo 2015 and the Salone del Mobile design fair.
Milan Fashion Week is unquestionably one of the most important dates in the fashion calendar, with industry insiders from Anna Dello Russo to Daisy Lowe coming from around the world to grace the Front Row. Fashion week can be a rather daunting experience for the uninitiated, with the seemingly endless back-to-back shows, dinners and afterparties draining even the most energetic fashionista, especially in the almost 40°C heat Milan ever so kindly provides.
When it comes to traditional dining options the elite of media, fashion and society flock to the opulent Ristorante da Giacomo, designed by Renzo Mongiardino, who has been hailed as an exceptional twentieth century designer. We quickly decided on the Garganelli with little squids and mullet roe, spider crab salad in Veneziana style and Giacomo's bomb. The quality of ingredients in all the dishes was clear to taste, with Giacomo's bomb being an indulgent treat to finish off the lunch.
Although we reached our seats just after the restaurant opened its doors at 12:30pm, within a mere 15 minutes the well-heeled fellow diners had already packed most of the eatery. The sudden influx of customers was well received, as we were beginning to feel rather self-conscious with four waiters floating solely around our table. The atmosphere is the real reason why Giacomo appears to be so oversubscribed, particularly due to the eclectic decor.
Next on the itinerary was Mantra Raw Vegan, which describes itself as 'the restaurant that does not cook anything'. I must admit to being somewhat apprehensive before visiting Mantra, as I had not been exposed to a great deal of vegan food previously, let alone raw vegan cuisine. The kelp noodles with pepper cream and chocolate brownie stuck out to us on the menu, with the next two dishes newly created by the chef showing an experimental streak.
Mantra's skill is not to simply make good vegan dishes, but good food, full stop. While I personally enjoyed all four courses, my dining companion, who happens to be vegan, found some of the tastes to be a little too variety and busy for her palate. The unusual White Charcoal water filter, which is meant to naturally adsorb impurities from water and release vital minerals, is certainly an interesting talking point for the table.
A mix of models, designers, bankers and socialites manage to muster enough energy to have late night rendezvouses at Just Cavalli Milano, which unlike many other designer branded night clubs always stays seasonal, with the decor being changed every season to ensure trends are followed exactingly. The location within the largest city park in Milan, Parco Sempione, gives Just Cavalli a distinctively exclusive and hidden away vibe.
For the morning after the night before Pavé, in the up and coming Porta Venezia area, provides much needed respite from the bustling city streets, with the homely and friendly feel it offers. This pastry and bakery shop has already been recognised as one of the 20 best bakeries in Italy by food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso and is currently looking for another location in Milan to expand into.
Fendi was a standout show with designer Silvia Fendi saying after the presentation that "these are just young, everyday basics, done in a more sophisticated way." Models entered on a faux-wet granite runway, as Silvia placed synthetic and organic materials against one another, blurring the difference between the two. Although the pieces were minimalist in nature, the fabrics used betrayed the understated design. The Roman house turned potentially unglamorous looks into luxe items for the everyman inside consumers who pay far much more than everyday prices.
The commercially focused collection saw the addition of the "Bug" mascot to two bomber jackets, amidst the unstructured and boxy silhouettes on display. The craftsmanship took priority in the menswear pieces, with the oversized tees and sweatpants still appearing meticulously constructed.
Backstage saw Fendi family scion Delfina Delettrez and Leonetta Luciano mingle with Breaking Bad's RJ Mitte, who also opened the Vivienne Westwood show, and Boyhood's Ellar Coltrane, while discussing the latest collection.