MILAN — Milan now officially has a men’s wear street — via Gesù. The ribbon cutting Saturday evening in the presence of the city’s mayor, Giuliano Pisapia; the head of the Italian chamber of fashion Mario Boselli, and Pitti Immagine president Gaetano Marzotto. At the same time, Caruso, Rubinacci and Luciano Barbera inaugurated their flagships on the exclusive street, a few steps away from Via Montenapoleone.
Via Gesù has long been home to Versace’s palazzo and, since 1993, to the five-star Four Seasons Hotel in a former 15th-century convent — whose affluent guests are viewed prime customers for men’s wear brands.
Caruso’s flagship, its second after a unit in New York, opens on the street through the original entrance of the convent that now holds the Four Seasons. Modeled after a concept by architect Edgar Vallora, the Milan unit, covering 4,320 square feet, is shaped like the backstage of an Italian opera house, the Teatro Regio in Parma — the city closest to Soragna, where Caruso is based. References to the area include plaster on the walls with a hand-trowelled finish, typical of farmhouses in the Po valley, with a natural gray-green color. The floors are made of cocciopesto lime mortar with crushed pottery, applied by hand by Veneto craftsmen, with a light terracotta, orange hue.
The main suit room was inspired by the racks and shelves of the famous “Banco dei Pegni [pawnshop]” in Palermo: the storage units and niches are all made using solid oak reinforced by antique iron finishes. A standout is an art installation by Giuseppe Amato, who also created the intarsia at the brand’s New York store that is inspired by the four seasons. Here, the work is about the theater within the theater and is framed by a red velvet curtain. It is a finely reproduced miniature of the Teatro Regio, with wooden bas reliefs and illuminated boxes, mother of pearl chandeliers, and scores of hand-made figures representing the audience and painted in silver sterling or copper.
“This is a discreet and luxurious street with secret gardens, “ said Umberto Angeloni, chairman, chief executive officer and majority shareholder of Raffaele Caruso SpA, who has long marketed Via Gesù as Milan’s men’s wear street. “It’s different from other luxury streets that are deserted when the stores are closed. It’s a residential street, with a luxury hotel and restaurant [Il Salumaio] and continues to live in the evenings.”
Luciano Barbera, unveiling his first flagship, touted the potential of the street. “Without going to Savile Row, Via Gesù has for a while now become the street for gentlemen’s dressing. Finally we have one also in Milan, and it’s highly distinguished,” said Barbera.
“Women enjoy walking around the street, but men have less patience, they want everything right away, and if they find the right suit, that’s it, they won’t leave it. You can shop on the street in one hour and a half,” contended Luca Rubinacci, grandson of Gennaro Rubinacci, who opened his tailoring shop in Naples in 1932. He also underscored how lodging and food complete the street’s offer. To further pamper the luxury shopper, Rubinacci included a sort of men’s-only-club room within the store, with photos of high-profile customers — from Cary Grant to Luciano Pavarotti — a marble fireplace and fashion and art books, where business conversations can be held, cigars smoked and whiskeys sipped, he said.
Other men’s stores on the street include Brioni, Kiton, Silvano Lattanzi, De Luca Sartoria, Doucal’s, Barrett, Tincati, Doriani, Barba Noli, Cacciari Salvati, Zilli, Uman, and, soon to be opened, Stefano Ricci.