Via Gesù is taking shape as Milan’s official men’s wear street—just don’t call it Italy’s Savile Row.
“It’s an improper comparison. Savile Row is dedicated to trade and not lifestyle,” bristles 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. “Via Gesù is a salotto [salon] of Italian lifestyle. Savile Row doesn’t have a five-star hotel, a museum or resident families with 300-year-old heraldry,” says Angeloni, who unveiled a Caruso flagship on the street in January, the brand’s first in Italy.
The executive was referring to the Four Seasons Hotel, in a stately former 15th-century convent, whose affluent guests are viewed as prime customers for men’s wear brands, and to the exquisite Bagatti Valsecchi museum, displaying tapestries, musical instruments, ceramics, sculptures and paintings, among other artifacts, mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries. The building also houses the sophisticated restaurant Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone in its arched courtyard. Gianni Versace used to live in Via Gesù and the brand’s headquarters remain in the same palazzo, where the label’s runway shows take place.
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 the soon-to-be-opened Stefano Ricci. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” comments the executive, proudly noting that the street is not deserted at night, after stores close. A commission has been created to propose turning the street into a pedestrian-only destination site, for example, and a book on Via Gesù will be available at the end of the year. “But we didn’t want it to be dusty, full of details about the history, it’s more anecdotal and relevant to today,” Angeloni stresses.
In January, Caruso, Rubinacci and Luciano Barbera inaugurated their flagships on the exclusive street, a few steps away from Via Montenapoleone.
Luciano Barbera touts 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 in Milan, and it’s highly distinguished,” says Barbera.
Luca Rubinacci, grandson of Gennaro Rubinacci, who opened his tailoring shop in Naples in 1932, contends that the street, where “you can shop in one hour and a half,” is a hit with men, as they prefer to shop faster than women. In the new venue, Rubinacci also included a sort of men’s-only club room, with photos of high-profile customers, from Cary Grant to Luciano Pavarotti, a marble fireplace and fashion and art books.