In the latest issue of Monocle, Lapo Elkann, the founder of lifestyle brand Italia takes his hypothetical last meal at a restaraunt Piazza Sant'Eustorgio in Milan. "It's the real Milan, not like Via Montenapoleone," he says. Shit!!! You mean the miles of glossy marble with Prada, Versace and Marni calling out to you with their silky sales people, lovely layers of tissue paper and grosgrain-handled bags AREN'T real? I feel shattered over the revelation. My trips to Milan have sadly always revolved around the megaluxe microcosm of Via Montenapoleone mainly because of the microcosmic nature of fashion weeks.
It's only recently that I've been able to venture outside of that comfort zone and go further afield. Just around the corner from Piazza Sant'Eustorgio is the equally "real" feeling street of Viale Col di Lana, where one of my favourite Milan boutiques, WOK resides. I've visited it before but yesterday, on my seven hour jaunt to Milan, I had to stop by as they have allowed Italian sunnies brand Super to take over the store in lieu of Salone Del Mobile going on right now.
It's the first time that Super have taken over a store in this way and it's quite a comprehensive in-person, physical experience of the sunglasses brand which has done phenomenally well since its launch in 2007. here you'll find all the S/S 12 offerings and a broad selection of its classic frames. Of course, it all lives online but the joys of trying on sunnies in person cannot be discounted especially when there's a choice as broad as the one Super offers.
WOK and Super have also teamed up to present the Ndebele special. These take on the Giaguaro frame shape and the print is inspired by the murals painted by the women from the Ndebele tribe in southern Africa. They'll be perching pretty on my head when the sun decides to come out.
Retro Super Future (I'm not sure in what instance do I refer to them as RSF or as plain Super so forgive the inconsistency)'s collaborations have been numerous but also extremey specific and well-orchestrated. They run the gamut from a pair of Elton John frames to Aussie cult label PAM to the beloved Liberty in London.
For S/S 12, Super have created a Visvia series that takes printed acetate to a photographic level. Concealed mostly on the inside of the frames, these photographs sum up the best of what summer has to offer and are there for your secret enjoyment. It's a lovely bit of subtlety.
You can also take in the brand's know-how through screenings of videos (not available on the internetz sadly) and peer in at the range of Carl Zeiss lenses and the Italian acetates that they use.
In the non-SUPER-fied bits of Wok, I found some other bits and bobs to be thankful to Wok for stocking, such as a pair of tortoise shell pvc Acrobats of God shoes, which slotted right in to the Super acetates on display…
…the discovery of Jil Sander Navy's heavy soled shoes…
Down the road on Viala Col di Lana, is another lovely Milanese discovery that is cashing in on the world's obsession with 2.0, souped-up nail salons. I never know where to get my nails done when in cities like Paris and Milan. I gather it's expensive and there's definitely no WAH Nails type equivalent to pop into. Owner Gaia Venuti saw a gap in a nails-based hang-out spot and so opened Bahama Mama late last year, with the name derived fro an Essie shade of nail polish. It aims to be the girliest of girly shacks, where you can grab a juice, have a massage downstairs, get your nails done by technicians dressed in French maid uniforms, whilst watching a suitably girly film (Marie Antoinette was on when I went) and also peruse a rail of carefully selected vintage, designer and trinkets and treats. I spied lots of new-ish bits of Prada and Miu Miu as well as a pastel array of vintage frocks. I see their trick. Play a pastel-hued film and send subliminal pastel messages and have a themed rail ready for browsing. It's altogether a slightly surreal grown-up pyjama party, with actual pyjamas if you wish, and definitely much appreciated in Milan. I literally had to mad-dash browse Bahama Mama in five minutes as I had to hop back to the airport but the next time I'm here, there'll be a slower exploration.