Where were you born?
In a beachside village on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. It’s a place where your childhood is spent in the ocean, on a bike, or up a tree – pretty great.
Where do you live now?
I have lived in Milan for more than 15 years. I love Milan because it’s one of the great European capitals of art, architecture and fashion. It’s faster-paced than other Italian cities, being the finance capital of Italy. Very multicultural, it has a huge Chinatown and also a large Muslim population. It’s a city that has changed immensely since I’ve lived here, and continues to evolve.
Which are your favourite Milan stores?
L’Artigiano di Brera on Via Solferino for handmade ballet flats in every colour imaginable, in every kind of leather at very reasonable prices. Boule de Neige in Corso Como, a really well-curated buying from top designers, plus they have their own line of amazing clothes and shoes that I just love. Asnaghi on Via Moscova is a very old fabric shop. They have everything from linen to silk to cashmere suiting – not cheap, but absolutely worth it. The owners are descendants of the founder, so they know just about all you can know about fabric. OVS is an economical chain store but for a few seasons now they have been collaborating with Costume National and churn out some amazing pieces at great prices.
And your favourite restaurants?
My favourite Japanese restaurant is Origami in Via Rosales. The menu is simple and the quality of the fish is exceptional – good drinks, and an elegant yet relaxed vibe. For Italian, I love Obikà. I usually go to the one in the food hall on the top floor of La Rinascente, a beautiful old department store. It’s a mozzarella bar and has a fantastic menu, plus it overlooks the spires of the Duomo which makes for a pretty breathtaking backdrop to your lunch. The best Chinese you’ve ever had? A hole-in-the-wall place, Via Giordano Bruno 13 in Chinatown, full of Chinese clientele. Try as I might, I’ve never spent more than €20.
Do you have a favourite local café or bar?
For breakfast I have two spots. One is Living on Via Bertani, right on Parco Sempione. The owners are Argentine and there is this great South American colonial feel to it – dark leather, dark wood, palms – and a fantastic brioche selection in the mornings. Close by there’s also Huggy Bear on Corso Sempione. They have great coffee and tiny bread rolls with prosciutto and other stuffings. I live in Arco della Pace which is a vibrant area of Milan known for its bars and nightlife. My local bar for a couple of drinks is Kitsch Bar on Corso Sempione. The boys that run Kitsch make a killer mojito.
Which do you think is the best museum in Milan?
For me it’s the museum at La Scala. They have original costumes on display that are just behind ropes, so you can get up so close you can see the stitching. They are precious couture pieces, hand beaded and made to measure. The costumes are constantly rotated and it’s not uncommon to see costumes from a 1950s Othello or Aida. Speaking of Verdi, his death mask is on display and some of his whiskers are still attached to it. Eek!
What insider’s tip would you offer for exploring the city?
Many people don’t realise how flat Milan is, which makes it a great city for bike riding. Another great way to get around is on the old trams. The interiors are polished wood and the light fixtures are tulips in frosted glass. The warning information signs are original – for example, ‘Those who have lost limbs in battle must be given a seat.’