Milan, as someone is sure to tell you when you go there, is one of the fashion capitals of the world. This never affected my life there in any direct way (and I sometimes wonder aboutÂ fashion’s real effects on everyday Milanese), but, during the spring and fall fashion weeks, the city is suddenly full of tall, skinny people, walking around purposefully with big binders under their arms. Some of them are indeed remarkably beautiful, but it’s surprising how ordinary many of them look, without the makeup. Except for being impossibly tall and skinny.
Some years ago, on theÂ Milan metro, I witnessed the following scene:
Three young Italian men boarded the train. They were reasonably good-looking and stylishly dressed, buttoned up for warmth in their trendy new black leather jackets, their hair artfully combed and gelled. They talked loudly, clearly wanting to draw attention to their own utter coolness. A couple of stops later, the doors slid open, and in glided two more young men. Not Italian, possibly American – they didn’t say a word, so I couldn’t guess by the language. They weren’t extremely tall, but they were built. Their scuffed-up leather jackets were draped negligently, hanging half off their muscular shoulders. Their jeans were casually torn and maybe a bit grimy. Their manes of dark blond hair were tousled. They flung themselves across four seats, sprawling elegantly, every movement and body angle exuding: “We’re so gorgeous, we don’t have to do anything to attract your attention but just BE here.”
The three young Italians got very quiet and very small. At the next stop, they slunk off the train without a word.