Diamond Life

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London. New York. Tokyo. In JUICE’s short but eventful life we’ve had the fortune to check off most of the world’s coolest capitals but not Milan. Until now. One of only two members of the media from Malaysia, the other being Choo Ee of Streething, JUICE was invited by Adidas,to the global launch of the Adidas Originals Spring/Summer ’09 Collection at Milan Fashion Week in September. With 2009 marking 60 Years of Soles and Stripes, it was going to be massive, and adidas were throwing a house party.

Despite its glamorous title as fashion capital, and honour of being the birthplace of Prada, Armani and Missoni, Milan, isn’t a conventionally beautiful city. Instead it’s hard working, industrial and old, and dismally sepia-toned, and except for the architectural attractions of the Castello Sforzesco, Duomo, Satzione Centrale and Piazza Duomo it’s quite functional. But like its buildings, Milan’s charms aren’t immediately apparent. You can’t capture it in a picture. It’s a lifestyle, epitomized by its well heeled women, immaculately dressed and perfectly coiffed whatever age, it’s air-brushed service staff resembling models, its cocktails served anything but sloppy, it’s style effortless but essential. The Milanese don’t do things in half measures. It’s perfection or death. And come Fashion Week that cool quotient multiplied. It’s against this backdrop that adidas Originals launched its most ambitious collection to date, at the head end of Fashion Week.

Day 1, Friday 19 September
After a grueling turbulence ridden flight from Singapore’s shiny new Terminal 3 JUICE is summarily ejected in Milan too early in the morning. Getting through immigration is confoundingly hassle free and we quickly jump into the back of a black Mercedes with a man in a black suit and a inbred need for speed. In the back with us is Wilfred Mong Associate of Category Marketing and Sport Style for adidas South East Asia, and host for the weekend.

Downtown at The Marriott we both pile into Choo Ee’s room. He arrived a day ahead of us and like a trooper has conducted a reconnaissance mission and charted out a plan of attack on our one free day. Joined by May, Deputy Ed of Singapore’s Style we make for the Metro (where the vending machines don’t just stock chocs and crisps but books) and journey into Milan’s heart.

Like tourists we wander the castle, dodge trams and peer lustily at the cheese, meats and sweets at the daily market as we navigate our way towards the Piazza Duomo and its gothic cathedral. We take a quick detour down Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a four-story glass roofed arcade of elegant stores and luxury goods shops frequented by elegant overly-tanned Italians, before we nip into H & M and snatch 20 minutes.

Choo Ee and Wilfred are big on brands so we’re headed 1 hour out of the city to Fox Town, not the name of a place but a sprawling fashion outlet in Mendrisio on the border in Switzerland, past fields of corns and up into the mountains near the stunning Como. Prices aren’t bargain basement but if Gucci, Valentino, Fendi or Ferragamo is on your shopping list and you’re not the type to say no to a hefty discount for some choice find then you can stretch your plastic here.

By 9pm we’re back where we started and hit up the 7th floor of La Rinascente department store for dinner and drinks. The rooftop food hall is home to several bars and restaurants which open ’til late, and the alfresco Il Bar promises breathtaking square-side views of the Duomo. Curled up with our glasses of Prosecco and bottles of Nastro Azzurro beer and complimentary plates of apertivo (the Italian equivalent of tapas, or “dinner” for on a budget) as gargoyles and saints stare at us stonily, it’s hard to believe there’s no friction at the door, no dress code and no extra charge for ambience. JUICE is beginning to love this city.

Day 2, Saturday 20 September
It all kicks off today but we have half a day to take in a little more of Milano and after another brekkie of fluffy pastries, clouds of buffalo mozzarella and cups of macchiato we make a beeline for Corso Como. Run by style soothsayer Carla Sozzani, who actually walks in while we’re there, and assisted by her sister Franca Sozzani, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, this boutique-slash-photography and design gallery-slash-bookstore is a treasure trove of personally selected and immaculately designed items. What is sold here inevitably goes on to become the most coveted items across the globe, but Corso Como isn’t the tastemaker we came here for, it’s adidas, and the next stop is the showroom.

The Adidas showroom is located in the canal area or Navigli and as a preview of the house party ahead, gourmet burgers, crisps, iced cakes and drinks beckon in the garden. Inside is an entire floor of Adidas Originals’ Spring/Summer 2009 collection and with 60 years of experience under their belts, the current crop of creations reflects decades of the brand’s rich heritage and lifestyle credentials. Accompanied by a comprehensive line of mix-and-match styles, it presents an extended summer fashion offering, serving in particular the coastal and urban street scenes.

There are heaps of standout items: the green tennis inspired women’s jacket with pleat detailing on the back; the Stan Smith peep toe shoes, nearly everything in the women’s Select Pack, which must surely the best use of the trefoil and 3-stripes ever!; the men’s 80s Preppy Casual super light windbreaker with stowaway hood and matching stripe button-up cardi, the Sneaker Journey zipped hoodie with all over Stan Smith pattern, the Spectrum Forum Mid Lux leather basketball shoe in metallic leather with matching Superstar track top, we could go on…. All will steadily be making their way into Adidas Originals stores and selected sneaker and fashion joints beginning January 2009.

The fashion show is held at East End Studios on Via Mecenate. Cocktails and trays of deep fried hors d’oeuvres are going round and a combo of media, the fashion set and Italian celebrities roll up and have either a camera or a microphone or both thrust in their mugs. It’s too bad we can’t tell who’s who, with the exception of the Magistrates, the strapped to a rocket, meteoric rising indie funk band from Essex slated to perform and the impossibly tall Stan Smith, tennis legend, and brand namesake, who ends up, along with Ben Pruess ex-pro snowboarder and Vice pres of Adidas Originals Product Marketing, standing behind JUICE during the event.

Adidas eschews the Fashion Week tradition of functional runway show. Floor-to-ceiling curtains in the blacked out room drop to reveal a 2-floor installation. Models are party guests and rooms are runways as Adidas takes its manifesto to serve up a house party quite literally. Could we see us rockin’ these threads in Zouk or hanging at AHR or mooching round Changkat BB? Hell yeah!

As the confetti rains down and the models magically melt away, we’re invited into the house and round the back where an industrial wasteland turned steel and stone courtyard reveals a Skyy cocktail bar manned by bartenders in Adidas tennis tees, and nests of seats. Apertivo circulate, drinks are downed, cards are passed around and photos are snapped. Well and truly spent (no wonder Milanese live on coffee) and somewhat legless, we slink off with a mouthful of 60th anniversary cake, and set a course for a late night family run Napoli pizza joint with yet another model standard waiter, before slipping back to our upscale digs. A weekend in Milan might sound misleadingly glamorous but we did live like the Milanese – working hard and partying hard. Oh yeah, we earned our stripes alright.

The Adidas Originals Spring/Summer 09 Collection drops worldwide in January 09. Click to Fashion for pix of the collection and to Gallery for more party pix. www.adidas.com.my

Images adidas + muna noor

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