MILAN — Retailer 10 Corso Como marks its 30th anniversary this year and founder Carla Sozzani is planning a range of events, exhibitions and special collections throughout September to celebrate the milestone as well as the Salone del Mobile and Milan Fashion Week.
Taking a tour of the store with WWD, Sozzani shook her head and her long blonde hair, marveling at the longevity of the concept store, confessing she would “never have imagined” it in those early days.
“When I started out, there was no internet and communication was slower; this was a place to meet and exchange ideas. With the technological evolution, I did wonder about the meaning of meeting physically when everything is online,” mused Sozzani. However, following the coronavirus pandemic and an online overload, “in a very strange way, people want to be able to meet again in a physical, serene place and look at each other — it’s become almost more important than before, also for very young people, so there’s been this sling effect.”
The anniversary coincides with a new phase for 10 Corso Como, after Tiziana Fausti last year took over the brand and the company branch that manages the store and its restaurant, aiming for international and online expansion.
The retailer is now under the direction and business development of Fausti, named chair, and the artistic, image and communication direction of Sozzani.
Mutual respect is a foundation of the relationship, and both underscored how they complement one another. “I am not a business person and she is,” admitted Sozzani, who is known for her hands-on approach to the store, which reflects her personal taste, pioneering a retail concept that blends fashion, cuisine, art, music, design and lifestyle and over the years carrying brands from Balenciaga, Prada and Maison Margiela to Dries Van Noten and Azzedine Alaïa — the late designer a close friend of Sozzani’s.
Her office is filled with photos by Man Ray and Helmut Newton on the whitewashed walls, art by Kris Ruhs and design furniture, and Sozzani started the store with a photo gallery — a pioneer at the time, as she considered photography as art.
The sister of late Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani, she started her career in publishing, launching Italian Elle in 1987 after a long stint at Vogue Italia.
Tiziana Fausti is an equally well-respected retailer, the founder of the namesake multibrand store and chair of its parent Holding Exor (not to be confused with the Agnelli family’s Exor N.V.).
Fausti founded her store in 1979 in the Italian city of Bergamo, a one-hour drive away from Milan, and the brand has grown to include an e-commerce channel. Tiziana Fausti carries labels ranging from Givenchy and Balenciaga to Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Prada, Saint Laurent and Off-White, to name a few.
As reported, 10 Corso Como has been through some growing pains, with recurring rumors about its future and its business stability. Although financial details about the deal with Fausti have not been disclosed, Fausti has been turning the business around and investing in its development. “10 Corso Como is in everybody’s heart, and Carla has succeeded in always offering a unique selection of products, her attention has always been caught by what is not banal,” enthused Fausti, who is focused on enhancing the store’s clout.
In 2017, the building housing the store was sold to former Twinset owners and founders Simona Barbieri and Tiziano Sgarbi. Fausti said she has renegotiated the rent contract for another 18 years. She plans to restore another part of the building housing the store to expand the existing, tiny hotel with three rooms, aptly called 3 Rooms, which first opened in 1998.
The launch of a Home Collection during Milan Design Week is one of the first signs of the new course of 10 Corso Como. Created in collaboration with Italian and international workshops, the brand is introducing vases, candles, cushions, blankets, tableware, hand-decorated plates and glassware interpreted with the unmistakable black-and-white graphics of the brand.
For example, collaborating with Artemide, the Falkland lamp by Bruno Munari is personalized with the store’s signature hand-embroidered circles. “Given the lockdowns it was natural to turn the attention to the home, wanting to surround ourselves with beautiful things,” offered Sozzani.
The store is located in and identified with the street of the same name and has contributed to the development of its neighborhood. The address includes the store, a restaurant and café, a gallery and a bookshop, which has recently been expanded.
Since the arrival of Fausti, for the first time in 30 years 10 Corso Como during Design Week will open a design space dedicated to events and special collaborations, with two windows overlooking the street: the 10 Corso Como Pop-up Space. Here, Masterly, the Dutch in Milan, curated by Nicole Uniquole, will present a site-specific installation by designer Stefan Scholten running Sept. 3 to 12, together with an exclusive selection of design pieces from the new collections of Masterly’s participants.
Fausti touted Sozzani’s longtime belief, which mirrors her own, in strong collaborations and, to mark the 30th anniversary, 10 Corso Como will offer new co-branding and limited-edition projects, ranging from a silver bag and T-shirt by Sacai’s designer Chitose Abe and customized Moon Boots to a Maison Kitsuné shopping bag and T-shirt and the MM6 Maison Margiela handbag, to name a few, each personalized with the 10 Corso Como graphics.
Sozzani was also a precursor in understanding how food would increasingly become a cornerstone of retail, rolling out a food line with Galateo & Friends after launching a luxury oil and vinegar combo in 2010 at Maison & Objet in Paris, introducing chocolate and honey, for example. The two will partner again for another set to be delivered in time for Christmas.
On Sept. 9, the day of 10 Corso Como’s opening in Milan in 1991, the store will present a notebook reflecting the visual imagery of the venue.
Speaking of the exhibitions that will be staged at the store, Sozzani lit up, enthusing about this opportunity, which reflects her curiosity.
Retailers have increasingly been touting the importance of shaping stores as destinations offering an experience, which is par for the course for 10 Corso Como.
Starting from Sept. 2, pieces produced by Cassina by 20th century masters of design Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, and Vico Magistretti, as well as an homage to Pierre Jeanneret will be presented in a site-specific set in the store.
Danish design company Karakter will display a selection of lamps and accessories designed by Aldo and Gijs Bakker, Max Brüel, Milla Seyppel and Joe Colombo.
A corner is dedicated to Fornasetti, and fine designer carpets based on the projects by Andrea Branzi, Richard Hutten, Alessandro Mendini and Nynke Tynagel, edited by Stefano Giovannoni for Qeeboo, will pepper the store.
The exhibition “Nanda Vigo: Incontri ravvicinati/Close Encounters” kicks off on Sept. 4, celebrating the Milanese architect, artist and designer. Danish design brand Fritz Hansen will present the famed chairs designed by Arne Jacobsen in a color palette created by Sozzani. “This was a first for me and so exciting if you think that Pantone was among the few chosen to do so before me,” Sozzani said with a smile.
Fashion also being key for the store, on Sept. 7, 10 Corso Como will preview the new Ports 1961 “Green Capsule 2022” conceived by artistic director Karl Templer, in collaboration with Tonne Goodman, sustainability editor at Vogue.
During Milan Fashion Week, running Sept. 21 to 27, the new Tod’s Factory project, the “Hender Scheme x Tod’s” capsule collection, in collaboration with the Japanese brand founded by designer Ryo Kashiwazaki, will be available as a preview.
Inspired by the trailblazing Peter Lindbergh campaigns in the ‘90s for Giorgio Armani, an exclusive co-branded capsule collection for spring 2022 will be launched worldwide in Armani’s signature brand flagship stores and at 10 Corso Como, with a site-specific installation conceived for the pop-up.
In June, Fausti spearheaded the launch of 10 Corso Como’s online store, and international expansion is also in the cards.
A 10 Corso Como-Comme des Garçons store in Tokyo in a partnership with Rei Kawakubo opened in 2002 but has since been closed, as have 10 Corso Como stores in Shanghai, Beijing and in New York’s Seaport District, but there are two existing units in Seoul, opened in 2008 and 2012, respectively.