woman column

A coffee with

A series of capturing portraits and interviews of outstanding 
women, that have made it on their own and are bonded to Milan, home of Sutor Mantellassi.

Fiammetta De Michele

If Romans believed that the fate of women was suggests by their name, Fiammetta – literary Little Flame – is living proof of the Latin expression. The energetic and brilliant Milanese opens up about getting lost in the creative process, her deep addiction to art and her collective DOGMA. Fiammetta had a coffee with us at Osteria con Vista Terrazza Triennale, one of Milan’s most exclusive locations, with a spectacular view of the Castello Sforzesco and the cities entire skyline.

1

Milano in 3 words

We are blessed with the Italian excellence; Fashion is the air we breathe and the soul of Milan. Food and design are the other big assets of this unique city. 

2

Milano in one building

I love buildings that have a story to tell and Villa Necchi Campiglio by Portaluppi always enchants me. It is in the Art-Nouveau district of Milan, also known as ” Quadrilateral of Silence”. The villa was commissioned by a textile tycoon in the 30’s and it is the most avant-gardist building of that period. You can visit inside and walk around the art or have a coffee by the pool. The movie Io Sono l’Amore was filmed in the villa and Tilda Swindon was the leading actress. It won an Oscar for best costumes. Fondazione Prada by Rem Koolhaas is also extremely interesting; it represents the contemporary Milanese renaissance. 

3

Close your eyes and describe the taste of your Milanese Colazione, Aperitivo or Cena. Would you be able to prepare it on your own?

I love the aperitivo at the Mandarin!  They have a terrific selection of cocktails and the interior design is a visual experience. We are blessed with the most exquisite restaurants, there are many different kinds, from the old school and family run like La latteria di San Marco, or sophisticated ones like Langosteria. I love to cook some meals but I can’t really compete with none of these! 

4

What’s a must have in your bag, while walking around the cities streets? 

I always carry with me a very nutrient hand cream, a lipstick and a perfume. 

Sometimes I have with me a little book. It’s relaxing to read some pages while I’m waiting for someone. It’s Zen. It helps me detoxifying from all the technologies I use. Momentary Silk by A. Baricco is my daily companion.

5

What shoes are you wearing and where will they bring you today?

I am wearing woman’ s monk shoes. They have an edgy attitude; they are elegant and sexy. They make me feel strong but feminine. Today I’ll visit the show at the Triennale and then I’ll go home finishing an article about a show in Rome.

6

Your look is highly inspiring. How would you define your personal style and lifestyle and which is your most polished uniform?

I travel a lot so I tend to buy matching outfits. During the cold months I wear almost all black. My most polished uniform is a little black dress and high heels. Red lipstick always makes a statement. 

7

The best moment of a working day is when . . .

The best moment of a working day is when you get deep into the creative process. 

8

How did your job choose you and where does your daily inspiration come from?

I’ve worked in all the fields of art and in galleries all around the world. Now I’m following the art direction of some projects, as long as my digital space Dogma where I interview artists in their studios. It’s a never-ending circle of inspiration. Art is a violent passion I just can’t escape! 

9

Your strongest asset.

I think its curiosity. I have a very curious mind and it makes me keep discovering and being interested in new things. This keeps me inspired. For example I just bought this incredible photography book, Before they pass away by Jimmy Nelson, about all the tribes in the word that are close to disappear.

10

A childhood dream.

It was being a writer. I loved Roald Dahl books and he was my inspiration! I used to imagine about different words like the ones he described in his novels such as Willy Wonker and the Chocolate Factory or the GGG. I had a vintage typewriter and I was writing with that. I loved the sound of each click on the keyboard. 

11

Your alter ego.

Anais Nin. She was a fierce writer who defied the convention of her time, writing scandalous novels. I admire her but I could never be as brave as her and that’s why she’s represents my alter ego.

12

Something we should know.

I am a very spiritual person and I believe in the power of energy. 

Chiara Fornari

Journalist, managing director and owner of digital agency Ready2fly, partner at Fastenseatbelt, loving wife and mum of three. You name it, milanese Chiara Fornari has it all and opens up on how to get there (and about the best Italian dish she prepares on her own).

1

Milano in 3 words.

First of all, Milan means home to me. Wherever I walk, countless corners bring up special memories. As a changing city that stays true to itself, Milan is somehow made to measure to its inhabitants: both are comparable to a hedgehog, rough outside but with a very warm heart. A way of life I feel pretty much in line with.

2

Milano in one building.

I immediately think about a beautiful hidden gem located in a tiny street behind La Scala. La Casa degli Omenoni is a historic palace of Milan, located in the eponymous street of Via degli Omenoni. Conceived by sculptor Leone Leoni the palace owes its name to the eight atlantes decorating its facade, named omenoni (‘big men’ in Milanese). Again I can pretty much identify in this very discrete building, which stands out but is barely noticed in the chaos of the city. Then all of a sudden, one day walking the center you’ll see it. It just stands still

3

Close your eyes and describe the taste of your Milanese Colazione, Aperitivo or Cena. Would you be able to prepare it on your own?

I’m a mum of three, meaning there is hardly anything I won’t be able to prepare – Chiara laughs -. However my ‘feel good food’ is a very special kind of pasta I prepare for lunch or dinner whenever I get home after a long working day or a trip. The so called stelline al pomodoro are tiny, star formed pasta pieces, that can be boiled in a consommé or in home made tomato sauce. Simply delicious.

4

What’s a must have in your bag, while walking around the cities streets? Why is it so indispensible?

Unfortunately the only indispensible item in my bag is my phone. I would love to provide you with a more poetical answer, but I cannot:  As Digital Manager for my agency Ready2fly, I need to be connected 24/7. Saying that, as a complete antithesis, I also have a profound passion for stationary, which I bring with me since high school years. Just imagine how the rest of my bags content looks like, meaning it has to be big enough to fit all the stuff I carry around every day.

5

What shoes are you wearing and where will they bring you today?

I love flat elegant shoes. Everyday my agenda is packed with appointments that bring me around town. In the evening I go home and my kids keep me active. It’s a lot of fun leaving little time for high heels.

6

Your look is highly inspiring. How would you define your personal style and lifestyle and which is your most polished uniform?

I’m a tremendously classic person so my work uniform includes a nice pair of jeans a perfectly fitted t-shirt and a chic pullover. When it gets warmer I combine a well-fitted, made to measure white shirt with a gilet. My feminine part comes out when I go out. Then I’ll match a long pleated skirt to a cool jacket and dance the night away.

7

The best moment of a working day is when…

It’s every single moment. I love my job; it’s where I spent most of my life and therefor 100 percent part of me. Counting the minutes seated at the desk is something completely unrelated to me. I’m never bored and I can’t get enough of what I do. Giving my best is my highest ambition. It doesn’t mean to be perfect but to try with all your strength.

8

How did your job choose you and where does your daily inspiration come from?

Writing is the antipode of my professional life and one of my greatest passions. I’ve always written, I wrote before even know how to write. As a little girl my notebooks where filled with scribbles, growing up notebooks became diaries, diaries became the school journal, the local journal, a degree in journalism, a newspaper, the first blog soon to become my very own digital agency. Let’s spend a minute to think about the extraordinary revolution media have gone through in the past decade. I have always tried to adequate to this astonishing evolution. Having worked in many different fields gave me a complete picture and I get a bit emotional when realizing I’ll fulfill 20 years of career this year.

9

Your strongest asset.

Never giving up. If I want something I find a way to get it. True devotion can bring yourself wherever you want. 

10

A childhood dream.

Figure skating caught great fascination of mine, when I was a little girl. I still profoundly relax when I happen to see a competition on youtube. It must be the concept of lightness and freedom of flight without wings that capture my dreams in a particular way.

11

Your alter ego.

My father. We are very different but I see many similarities from a characterial perspective. I’d like to reach his peace of mind despite the goals achieved: always calm, nice, not aggressive at all. I would like to get ahead without losing adherence to the fundamental things of life. I would like to be a centered humble and modest person without need to appear. Being cumbersome or becoming the victim of my job is something I do not considerate a t all. At the end of the day I’m also a mum, a wife, a friend so I don’t want to get tired of myself.

12

Something we should know.

Maybe a whish to myself: I would like to continue to evolve. I believe that who hesitates is lost. Over the face of my children time remembers me that it passes. At the same time they are proof of the fact that a woman in Italy may be whatever she wants: we are privileged and can be hard workers, build up our own company and be marvelous mothers at the same time. We live in an advantaged society that permits us to fulfill our dreams, let’s be grateful for it.

Lola Toscani

Lola Toscani knows exactly where to spot beauty and has the essential gift of bringing together captivating people, in the right place at the right time. With a high amount of creativity flowing in her blood, open her own production and management agency in Milan, came as natural as drinking a glass of water. She describes herself as a problem solver, an art she perfectly masters in between cooking delicious Italian dishes and going to the movies – on her own.

1

Milano in 3 words.

I Love Milan because it is a compact city, making it very approachable. Moreover I think Milan is generous and efficient. 

2

Milano in one building.

Thinking about Milan’s architecture, the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, established in 1776, pops immediately to my mind. I often stroll through the Cortile d’Onore and ascend the monumental staircase to reach the Pinacoteca and the Library. Here I love to observe the school, the classes and students, applying their creativity on art in a very international environment.

3

Cose your eyes and describe the taste of your Milanese Colazione, Aperitivo or Cena. Would you be able to prepare it on your own?

First of all, just to make things clear: I love to eat – Lola explains satisfied.

Since I’m always on the run, I usually just have a quick bite for lunch and then take my time and prepare a great dinner, for myself or for friends. My menu offers plenty of vegetables, but also a fantastic Italian ragù. Grocery shopping is one of the most important parts of the meal and one more reason to define Milan a generous city: so many tiny and colorful shops receive customers with open arms. My grocery woman is always ready to help me out with my recipes. A secret spot? A fantastic ice cream shop is waiting for you in via Volta, right behind Moscova. They also have unforgettable Gorgonzola cheese.

4

What’s a must have in your bag, while walking around the cities streets? Why is it so indispensible?

As mentioned, I’m always on the run, so I basically carry my whole life around with me in my bag – Lola laughs. Never missing my Mac, the Moleskine where I meticulously note my appointments with a pen (of course!). The basics for my makeup like mascara and lipgloss…and random snip snak because I like to give things as a little cadeaux to people randomly. This is a little habit I keep since I’m a child, when a nice lady at the beach would hide countless precious things -like candies and stuff – in her bag for me.

5

What shoes are you wearing and where will they bring you today?

I’m wearing a wonderful pair of sapphire blue tassels that will bring me straight to my office located in Milan’s Sant’Ambrogio area.

6

Your look is highly inspiring. How would you define your personal style and lifestyle and which is your most polished uniform?

My uniform is rather simple and sophisticated than polished. I have to feel comfortable: a black short sleeve cashmere shirt, a perfectly fitted pair of jeans and an edgy leather jacket is fair enough. All styled up with contemporary accessories. I think style is something very personal, but we all have a muse we get inspired by, for me that would be my mother.

7

The best moment of a working day is when…

You fall in love with your job over and over again.

8

How did your job choose you and where does your daily inspiration come from?

I somehow manage to make my life complicated: as a very shy person I choose to study public relations. It was a fail since I could absolutely not relate to that field. Nevertheless today it is my job to put people together. I try to understand talents, introduce them to cool companies and wait and see what occurs. When I got it right, the magic happens and that is definitely where my daily inspiration comes from.

9

Your strongest asset.

My ability in problem solving. I’m the middle child and have therefore always been the one that had to figure out how to strategically make things work out.

10

A childhood dream.

Since always I’m fascinated by anything that has to do with beauty.

11

Your alter ego.

Pippi Longstocking. She definitely was my childhood hero.

12

14. Something we should know.

I love to go to the movies on my own – as long as there is some popcorn.

 

Lola had a coffee with us at Otto in Via Paolo Sarpi, 8 an unpretentious neighborhood bar of gorgeous simplicity and good taste. Here she escapes to recharge on creative ideas and to enjoy the quiet atmosphere.

Elena Barolo

Italian actress, showgirl and blogger

It’s Christmas time when we meet sweet Elena Barolo in the courtyard of Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi, one of Milan’s most breathtaking locations. Here she opens up about her relationship with the fashion capital, her daily habits and greatest passions. Elena had a coffee with us at Il Salumaio di Via Montenapoleone, in via Santo Spirito 10, Milan.

1

Milano in 3 words.

At first glace Milan may appear quiet distant and grey, but if you look twice there is a light coming trough. My bound with this city is very strong: it offered me plenty of opportunities since I came here as a teenager. In this city I found many friends and had the chance to build up a professional career

2

Milano in one building.

Due to its closeness to the local television quarters, Milano Due is where I lived first when I came here. It is one of those residential areas, which where build around European cities in the 70’s, when everybody started to desire a life away from every day chaos. People started to move out to the countryside in order to enjoy nature. Giancarlo Ragazzi, Giuseppe Marvelli, Antonio D’Adamo and Julius May were in charge of the architectural structure of Milano Due; Enrico Hoffer took over the landscaping.

3

Close your eyes and describe the taste of your Milanese Colazione, Aperitivo or Cena. Would you be able to prepare it on your own?

Breakfast is what gets me started. It’s the beginning of a day and therefor it’s most important part. Like in a beautiful movie, the first 15 seconds of your day will tell if you like it or not. I usually have breakfast in one of my favorite places in Milan, the Salumaio di Via Montenapoleone, where the Cappuccino is lukewarm and has the perfect percentage of coffee blend in it. A croissant is never missing and I definitely do not prepare it at home – Elena laughs.

4

What’s a must have in your bag, while walking around the cities streets? Why is it so indispensible?

I have a little satchel I always carry with me, no matter what. It hides all my treasures. The most precious one? Definitely a lucky charm my grandmother hand made for me. It’s a tiny mousseline bag that contains salt and a medal of the Virgin Mary. That salt wards off evil spirits is a very old idea, and still particularly present in Italy.

“As a little girl my in my dreams I could see myself as the female version of James Bond…probably this is where my love for tuxedo’s comes from.”

5

What shoes are you wearing and where will they bring you today?

I’m wearing a beautiful pair of Sutor Mantellassi Cecile booties, my ultimate passe-partout for this autumn-winter season. These edgy things will bring me to two more shootings today and afterwards I’ll have a date with Father Christmas – Elena laughs – I will have to find a Christmas gift for my mum. I’m actually late, since I already got that of my mother-in-law, but for sure mum will understand.

6

Your look is highly inspiring. How would you define your personal style and lifestyle and which is your most polished uniform?

Due to my job I definitely pay a lot of attention to my looks and it may happen that I change style several times a day. I can be very elegant but I also love practicality and constantly look out for being comfortable. Even though I love high heels, lately I’m trying to settle down a bit and use flat shoes more and more: derbies, double monks or Chelsea boots; you will find all of these styles in my wardrobe. My most polished uniform is definitely a tailor made tuxedo in a nice sleek and feminine cut.

7

The best moment of a working day is when…

I get into a confrontation with people I respect. It’s a challenging way to bring out a stronger part of me. However I am a very peaceful person after all.

8

How did your job choose you and where does your daily inspiration come from?

Everything started 15 years ago with a competition for a television show I did not really want to attend. At that time I was studying fashion at IED, a renowned university in Milan and my career in television just happened to become more important everyday, until I had the opportunity to start working as an actress. Nevertheless, my love for fashion never fainted and that’s how I decided to start my blog affashionate.com , which gives me the opportunity to carry this great passion of mine forward every day.

9

Your strongest asset.

At first glace I often appear as superficial and detached, two characteristics I use as screen and defense against the harshness of life, but once I open up I can be your most loyal friend.

10

A childhood dream.

As a little girl my in my dreams I could see myself as the female version of James Bond…probably this is where my love for tuxedo’s comes from – Elena laughs – I remember that I even googled for the CIA’s application form. Of course nobody ever came back to me.

11

Your alter ego.

I am a big dreamer with a great imagination and have always been fascinated by the real top models of the 90’s, like Claudia Schiffer. When I was a little girl, I would spend my days speaking English and being some kind of superstar.

12

Something we should know.

When my little Whiskey arrived 3 years ago I was terrified by dogs and when he wanted to play I would run away from him. He was my therapy and today we are inseparable.

 

Nathalie Jean

Architect, Milano (IT)

As Canadian architect, Nathalie Jean starts her career building fabulous skyscrapers, adorning her homeland skylines. Until she meets Ettore Sottsass and joins his Milanese studio in order to follow Interior Design projects. It is love at first sight with the city and it’s buildings. A love leading to the creation of “wearable miniature architecture”. Her breathtaking jewelry collection can be admired in the boutique located in Via Solferino 48, Milan. It reflects her refined and classy appearance, as well as her contagious humor.

1

Milano in 3 words.

That’s an easy question, but I would probably resume 3 concepts more than words: for sure I immediately think about Modern Architecture, as the one of Gio Ponti, Portaluppi and Albini. To me, their buildings are the cities’ cornerstones, constantly crossed by very chic and extremely well dressed Milanese Men, which are the second thought coming to my mind. Last but not least, when I think Milano I think Salone Del Mobile. Such an important venue that has given the city so much in the last years, making it flourish again. 

2

Milano in one building.

Impossible. I have to name at least two. Both are from the mid 30’s: Gio Ponti’s Palazzo and Torre Rasini, located in a spot of great urban importance in between Porta Venezia and the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli. The cubic white marble Palazzo and its incredible proportions particularly fascinate me. Not far, in Via Mozart, Piero Portaluppi’s Villa Necchi Campiglio overwhelms me every single time I visit. 

3

Close your eyes and describe the taste of your Milanese Colazione, Aperitivo or Cena. Would you be able to prepare it on your own?

If I close my eyes now, I find myself in what I call the extension of my boutique in Via Solferino. Dry Cocktail Bar by Berton is where all my friends come together to have an Aperitivo. I’ll usually have a Moscow Mule or Gin Gin Mule and a small focaccia with Vitello tonnato, but I keep it short. I’ll have my Aperitivo and go home. And no, I absolutely do not make this at home. I never have alcohol and can’t make pizza.

Elise

Eloise

“I’m a practical women, so if I’m around the city for a walk, the intent is to be comfortable but chic. This dark blue Sutor Mantellassi Oxford Shoe is just the perfect change from my usual black one’s.”

4

What’s a must have in your bag, while walking around the cities streets? 

Of course my phone, I travel quiet a lot and it’s great to have contacts, calendars, meeting schedules and every thing else in there. It makes work so much easier for me. Since it is actually everything I really need, in order to fill my bag I carry a lot of useless stuff with me, too. (Nathalie laughs with her irresistible and open smile on the lips).

5

What shoes are you wearing and where will they bring you today?

I’m a practical women, so if I’m around the city for a walk, the intent is to be comfortable but chic. This dark blue Sutor Mantellassi Oxford Shoe is just the perfect change from my usual black one’s. Later I’ll have lunch, will then head to my boutique, work like crazy and party the evening away because it’s fashion week.

6

Your look is highly inspiring. How would you define your personal style and lifestyle and which is your most polished uniform?

My most polished uniform consists of Jewelry, of course. Since I don’t have much time I often wear black and my jewelry lightens up everything. More than that I love dresses, shirts and skirts. I buy what I like, not necessary following brands. When in meetings with clients my must is a pair of very high heels, because they give you a sense of authority. In my spare time I may visit flee markets and hunt for special vintage finds.

7

The best moment of a working day is when . . .

I finally mange to sit down and draw. It is the moment I look forward for the most. I love to focus, create new things and the feeling of an idea coming up. Everything just starts to flow. 

8

How did your job chose you and where does your daily inspiration come from?

I had many different jobs but at the end creativity is what unites them all: architecture, interior design, design and finally jewelry design. When I chose to study architecture it was mainly because I did not want to go into science, which is what most part of my family does. Inspiration comes from everywhere, 24h a day: nature – especially its hidden face – biology, architecture, anything but jewelry. I look for details, when I travel, when I’m home. While I’m doing Yoga I find inspiration in myself.

9

Your strongest asset.

Tenacity. There is no other way to put up your own business. You just need to be incredibly tenacious and always believe in what you do. 

10

A childhood dream.

I can clearly remember one dream that has been with me since I’m a little girl. Since then I have had the desire to live twenty years I every continent. Starting from Northern America, Europe, Asia getting to Nord Africa. I think I’m a little late, but you never know what may happen in life.

11

Your alter ego.

As alter ego I would define a very intimate friend, someone who understands me and knows everything about me. That definitely would be my ex husband.

12

Something we should know.

The love of my live: my daughter Agata. She’s a perfectionist like me and I’m so proud of her. She speaks five languages and studies art at Dresden Kunsthochschule. We have a unique bound and she regularly calls me to check what I’m doing. She takes care of me. 

 

Nathalie had a coffee with us at El Tombon de San Marc in Via San Marco, a location she loves because of its liberty style interiors and bistrot like allure.

Jenny Walton

Fashion director at The Sartorialist

Brooklyn-based fashion illustrator Jenny Walton is fashion director at The Sartorialist. She opens up about her love for vintage, sketching in the early morning and last but not least for her boyfriend Scott Schuman. Milan is her favourite spot, away from home.

1

Milano in 3 words.

That’s easy. Milan of course stands for Design. Ça va sans dire – Jenny laughs. I also think about Greenery, because it’s overwhelming what you see on Milan’s perfectly set terraces and balconies. That leads me to the cities Architecture: I just love the buildings in Milan.

2

Milano in one building.

The straight lines and cubic forms of the Italian fascist and rationalist architecture mostly impress me. I’m especially thinking of the Stazione Centrale – Milan’s Central Station- or latter constructed Casa Caccia Dominoni in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio.

3

Close your eyes and describe the taste of your Milanese Colazione, Aperitivo or Cena. Would you be able to prepare it on your own?

No doubt that would be Aperitivo with Campari soda at Marchesi in Corso Magenta. The Italian traditional Aperitivo is irresistible for an American and all that delicious finger food that comes with it, makes it even tastier. We do not have anything like that in the US and I always bring a bottle of Campari home with me, so I can recreate the atmosphere.

4

What’s a must have in your bag, while walking around the cities streets?

Something never missing is my sketchbook together with a skin tone marker and a watercolor pen. Whilst waiting for some one I’ll just take the set out and start to draw. I also have bees lip balm, my iPhone, headphones, money and sunglasses with me.

Stella

Esther

“I like to be unique and that’s where my love for vintage comes from. It gives me the feeling to own creations others don’t. Playing with combinations and hunting for vintage allows me being more creative.”

5

What shoes are you wearing and where will they bring you today?

I’m wearing a super elegant and masculine Sutor Mantellassi oxford shoe in black, that sets just the right contrast to my hyper feminine red vintage dress. These shoes are comfortable and that’s all you want for a busy day like mine. I am having a lovely coffee now and will meet my boyfriend later for a quick lunch and then head to fashion shows in the afternoon. After such a long day, we usually dine at the hotel.

6

Your look is highly inspiring. How would you define your personal style and lifestyle and which is your most polished uniform?

I like to be unique and that’s where my love for vintage comes from. It gives me the feeling to own creations others don’t. Playing with combinations and hunting for vintage allows me being more creative. In Milan my best shopping spot is the Mercato Dei Navigli, every last Sunday of the month.

7

The best moment of a working day is when…

The moment of quiet before your day starts. I listen to music and collect my thoughts, sketch and think about what I have spotted in different occasions.

8

How did your job choose you and where does your daily inspiration come from?

My creative eye applied on anything I do. I don’t have to question too much, because I’m very specific and I know what I like.

9

A childhood dream.

I always liked film. Even if I don’t know anything technical about it, since I was a little girl I always have dreamt about cinema production.

10

Your alter ego.

I’m not sure if I can define her my alter ego, but I love Audrey Hepburn and think she has that kind of elegance every women would like to possess.

11

Something we should know.

Milan is my favorite city, besides of my hometown – it’s the most welcoming I have visited. And the first three Italian words I learned are Prego, Pronto and Allora. You guys always say that.

 

Jenny had a coffee with us at N’Ombra De Vin in Via San Marco, a location she also loves because “they serve excellent Campari Soda for aperitivo”.


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