MICHELA GATTERMAYER ## Milanese from Milano, 52 years old, fashion director

I am 100% a Milanese, arrived with the Austrian invader… We have been here since the 1600-1700, and so we are real Milanesi (as Gattermayer).

The true Milanesi have changed because they are international, have learned to travel, to get around. This change reflects on the city, which is less bourgeois and provincial compared to how it was until recently, about twenty years ago.

Milan is much more welcoming than it seems, it is a very small city and this is part of its beauty. Being tiny is Milan’s great strength: if you have a scooter you can cross the city from Città Studi to Fiera Milano in less than fifteen minutes. So if you have a friend across town it is not a problem to meet.

I have many friends from Naples and from Puglia. At the beginning, when studying at university, they were desperate. They missed everything. They didn’t have the sea, the language was different, and even the food was very different back then. At the end they didn’t want to go back home…

The obnoxious Milanese is gone. The Bauscia, as they say, the one with the big car and the big watch is ridiculous now and no longer exists. Milan isn’t about that stuff anymore. The new Milan has changed a lot. Then if you talk to my father, a 86 year old Milanese who lived in the Milan of the 50s, he describes it as a wonderful place because there were the most beautiful art galleries in Europe.

I didn’t like the Expo, I thought it was bullshit. But now I find myself saying that now Milan is much more fun. There is good and positive energy, also thanks to fashion and design.

Italians are very good at Design and Fashion so Milan can’t be overlooked when it comes to image or this sort of things. Apart from the recent years of the crisis when the city was very depressed. Now Milan’s energy is back.

Fashion’s first steps were about experimentation and that was great fun: if things were wrong, we threw them away and did them over. It was not like now that everything is business and mistakes are not allowed. We were all young, all with a lot of energy, there was nothing so everything had to be invented. What’s interesting is that the new generations are in love with fashion. That’s kind of our fault, since we forced everyone to be fashionable. Whether we like it or not Fashion is in the air we breathe, but it is so all over the world. Milan is a city that lives for Fashion, and so here it’s stronger.

The fortune of these companies that were able to capitalize well is that they became patrons. After all, Fashion goes everywhere with them because they have the money to make the best films, publish great books and arrange wonderful exhibitions. In Milan some of them created empires. Prada and Armani for example gave the city exhibition space, and this is wonderful. It shows that designers, and those who work in Fashion, are the new Renaissance nobility, those who have big money and can afford to spend it in the community.


A 50 year old woman can be either the intellectual type with flat shoes, baggy trousers, comfortable jacket (the Armani kind)… dashing, as if she abandoned the sexual aspect of her life and is mainly interested in going to exhibitions, she already has grandchildren. And then there’s the type that doesn’t give up: high heels, miniskirt, lifting, very horny… My men friends who are in their 50s are literally besieged, even those who have always been considered as losers suddenly have become attractive to every woman…

40 year old women are a little different, they are working hard and are less lucky than the 50 year olds who began working in the’ 80s when everything was easier. They struggle, work hard, maybe they still have young children because they had them late… The 40 year old woman who decided not to have children is more fashionable, she can afford to buy beautiful things, designer things. They all have nice bodies, because the Milanesi do a lot of sports.

30 year olds are desperate, they either have small children, if they had any, or they are working on their career, but unfortunately there is no longer a career to work on. Today climbing the ladder is way more difficult… Therefore you see them buying things from Zara, suits to go to work in but also some sort of fashionable things since they still don’t have much money…

They are clearly lost, as we all were at that age. Only for us it was easier to work, for them is more difficult. They look very slack, groggy… A part from that, everybody who’s younger than 50 still believes they are in their teens and do a lot of silly things.

Among the new things the Fondazione Prada is not to be missed. At the moment it probably is the most beautiful museum in the world. Then I am very fond of the park of Villa Reale, the one with the sign at the entrance saying that adults cannot enter unless accompanied by children. And then the Bicocca, I find it amazing with the Kiefer towers.

Of course, if you talk to my father, a 86 year old man who lived in the Milan of the 50s he describes it as a wonderful place, with the most beautiful art galleries in Europe, a city where photography and advertising were born… We live off that Milan, we took what’s good about that Milan. It is no longer a difficult city, in my opinion. Sure, in Milan you have to work, because if you don’t work you get really bored.

When you start to live in Milan you have a life that revolves around work: I get up at six thirty in the morning, after an hour I’m out, I get home at nine o’clock in the evening. Don’t invite me to a party because that way you are just doing me harm.

I think people used to run away, the new Milan is more livable, there are more beautiful places than before. Many bars and restaurants have recently opened, I hope green areas will increase as promised, so on Saturdays and Sundays people will lie on the grass in their underwear, as in all big cities.

Its beauty must be understood, I don’t like all the things that have been done. For example I don’t like the area of the Varesina with its skyscrapers, I find them old already. If we don’t lose our identity, the pale yellow of the buildings, the banister houses that are characteristic. If we can have both things then bingo! That way we can be beautiful.

Milan is a city that gives opportunities and this way it can change you for the better. Unless you have problems at work, or you struggle to keep up with the pace of this city or you don’t have friends. You don’t need to have an helicopter to feel good in this city, to not have to struggle to pay all the bills is enough.

I do not even think about it, it’s my big problem … because I like my roots, if you’re lucky to have them. Although I envy those who don’t have roots because they are much freer…

I believe that there should absolutely be one. We built our churches in places where there weren’t any, and so they should be able to do the same.

The big problem is not only the economic crisis. Maybe Milan, being a rich and productive city, will recover from the economic crisis much more easily than the rest of Italy. I am convinced that the problem is also a personal crisis. The fear of growing old, of not being able to make it… Some of us are lucky enough to have a permanent contract that gives stability, which helps a lot. Of course, I’m speaking about the serious ones who are willing to work and not about those who steal their salary, who should all be dismissed to make room for those who want to work. Unfortunately companies are full of this kind of people and the crisis has uncovered them all. In my opinion it is more a matter of personal crisis, which is way more difficult to solve.

The 80s made us believe that from then on we were going to be more and more successful. It wasn’t true. The ‘Milano da bere’ was a lie, we weren’t like that. We were much scruffier and even poorer. If at that time I had been 10 years older I would have probably earned much more because I could have had the job that in those years I was still learning. Who was 30 in the 80s was lucky because if they were good at what they were doing they would have also been able to capitalize on their success. I remember that we had a lot of fun in the discos, we went dancing every night, even to bad music (the music of the 80s) that followed the wonderful music of the 70s, but never mind… We were light, not superficial, but we were light. Milan allowed us to be so… Sure, maybe we were all a bit spoon-fed. Anyway then we worked hard to make our own carrier. But for us it was easier. Now we understand that nothing is easy and this has caught us unprepared: we had believed in something silly that no one should ever believe in… However the new generation will be better than ours, I’m sure about this. Now I use public transport, especially the tram, and I find it beautiful. On the tram everyone speaks only about money, before people used to gossip about light topics. Not now. Now everyone is talking about the money that they don’t have, about how to pay bills, taxes, schools, about alcohol problems and so on. When I get off the tram I feel anguished.

Finally beautiful, since everyone keeps saying that it is becoming so. Welcoming and fun. In Milan people have a lot of fun.

Because of its strength and because it is a rock. Neapolitans are better though…

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