Milan: Via Monte Napoleone, Spring 1996 – Part 1

[Milan. Spring 1996 – Part 1 of 2] It was fashion week; and rumors were flying that the famous models were in town. Remember: The original ‘supermodels’ were still at an all-time peak then. I was twenty-one years old and enjoying a stroll down via Monte Napoleone – Milan’s high-end shopping street – with my friend and fellow study abroad classmate Laura. Maybe we had some small hope that we’d see a celebrity in town for the shows. Maybe. Just sayin’.

So, we took the metro/subway to the Duomo or city center and bought ourselves a cone of delicious gelato at Gelateria Tre Gazzelle – mine was cinnamon, and I believe Laura had stracciatella. We strolled, with our cones, over to via Monte Napoleone just for that chance of maybe see someone famous.

We passed by the windows of the many flagships of Italy’s top designers; like Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Versace. A quarter of the way down the street, we paused at an entrance with a rising staircase, covered in red carpet, leading up to what was probably one of the show venues. I began to ascend and was immediately stopped by a security guard whom I didn’t notice had been standing just inside the doorway. Playing dumb, I apologized, stepped down to the narrow sidewalk, and moved us along further down the street.

Soon after, we spotted a group of people gathered around, trying to get a peek inside the Gucci store. Yup, there definitely had to be a celebrity inside Gucci. But who? We got closer to find out.

The group was held back from the store’s entrance by two security guards dressed in black. The people weren’t too rowdy, and they seemed to have been respecting the guards’ directions. There wasn’t any professional cameras, nor any blinding flashes. These people were not paparazzi. They seemed more like tourists on a shopping holiday. We joined the crowd and asked someone who was inside; to which we were informed that it was the one and only Ms. Claudia Schiffer. Bingo! We immediately decided we were going to wait for the golden goddess to emerge.

I must pause here for a moment to remind you that we were twenty/twenty-one years of age, just out of class, dressed pretty decent for college students: both clean, well-fit jeans, me a button-down shirt and maybe a clean pair of Docs, and Laura, a loose fit white cotton sweater. Thankfully, we were done with our gelati, so we looked like we somewhat belonged on that street. At that point, anyway, it didn’t matter – we now had our mission: to see supermodel Claudia Schiffer.

The excitement of the crowd was soon re-energized. For, behind the glass double doors, we saw people rustling and readying to exit. Was Claudia Schiffer about to come out? Who knows? The guards, still backs to Gucci, stretched out their arms to keep the crowd detained. And then, the doors swung open…

[Continued to part 2 of 2.]

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