Milan and its endless relationship with “La Rinascente”

I don’t know exactly when I fell in love, but it happened, and I would add “fortunately” happened. Day by day, my enhancement for this city raised. It could be the different memories that link me to Milan, but not only. This city sounds like innovation, evolution counting, rush, speed, fashion, design, beauty, dolce vita, art, culture and international, and I know that “La Rinascente” was one the those elements that made me fell in love with Milan. For me that live in Milan, La Rinascente is always present due to its constant commitment in the promotion of cultural events and due to the important role that it plays in the international environment, which has made possible the election of “La Rinascente” as the best department store in the world at the Global Department Store Summit 2016. 

I received this invitation from “La Rinascente” to go and see this exhibition that tells about their story through pictures and old promoting posters.

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History of La Rinascente

The history of La Rinascente is linked with the history of Milan, because it is part of the city. La Rinascente promotes a very Italian and Milanese way of life through design, fashion, luxury and food. It is very integrated with the Milan way of life. Living Milanese means living La Rinascente, of course If you can afford it, because sometimes things sold in it are very expensive.

It was founded in Milan in 1865 by Bocconi brothers, the same family that will found some years later Bocconi University, the best university in Italy for economics, management, finance and marketing, which is the same University in which I study. At the time, the name of Rinascente was different. It was “Alle Città d’Italia” (literally: To Italian Cities) and only in 1917 the names changed to “La Rinascente”.

This department store followed the footprints left by other important ones, like Harrods and others similar founded in USA that wanted to promote the ready-to-wear fashion (prêt-à-porter) phenomenon. The idea of Rinascente was that ready-to-wear clothes could be quality clothes as well as the tailored ones. It was able to win this “battle” among the aristocracy and the middle class and its business performed very well.

La Rinascente building was an Art Nouveau building that used to be an Hotel before the department store foundation, but it was destroyed  after the second World War. During the reconstruction, some architects went to USA, to study like a department store should look like, in the place where department stores appeared for the first time. A department store should have no windows, because you do not need natural light, and with automatic escalators. Indeed, If you look the pictures of the building before the reconstruction you can notice that the style was pretty different from the one after the second World War, that you can still see today. (Pictures below)

Milan inhabitants did not agree with the project of the new building and wanted to destroy it, but It kept being built and fortunately we can admire it nowadays.

The old building from outside before the reconstruction after the second Word War
The old building from inside before the reconstruction after the second Word War
The old building destroyed during the war
The new building from outside after the reconstruction after the second Word War
The building like it looks today


La Rinascente changed its logo and its font during the years (Picture below) and has had a very important role in the evolution of Italian advertising language and design, because it was the first to found the design prize “Compasso D’oro” (literally: “the golden compass”) the most important design prize in Italy, which generates a sort of competition within the designer’s world to get the prize. Moreover, “La Rinascente” gave its contribute to the evolution of the showcase concept. 

Some of the many logos
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Miniature of first showcases


I would add that you should remember this: If you are ever going to visit Milan, you definitely need to visit La Rinascente. This place is so beautiful and charming that you won’t regret having visited it. It is like going to London and not visiting Harrods or going to NYC and not visiting Macy’s.

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