Photo by Rankin

Insider Guide: How Jj Martin Masters Milan Fashion Week

Words by Jody Hume | 9.20.16
After moving 15 years ago from New York, JJ Martin has created a Milanese dream life. She’s a fashion writer and currently Editor at Large for Wallpaper* as well as the founder of haute vintage site LaDoubleJ. There you’ll not only find fantastic designer pieces from decades past, but also get a peek into the utterly stylish lives of Milan’s most fabulous and creative women. Martin’s maximal, feminine, bold prints-focused style is always an inspiration, and she obviously knows all the best spots in Milan — as well as the ins and outs of the best shows in the Italian fashion capital. Read on for her guide to the best hidden-away spots in the city, the runway that always bests the rest, plus tips for teaming old with new like a fashion pro.
How do you plan your looks for Milan Fashion Week?
I used to plan this out days in advance. Now that I’m juggling so many different work responsibilities, I’m lucky if I get it all together in the last 10 minutes before I run out the door to meet the Wallpaper* fashion team. What does help the early morning chaos is that my closets are extremely organized. I’m a maniac about it — so it’s very easy to find things. I like pattern and crazy prints, so I just start with one bonkers piece and build the rest of the look out from there.  
Marni sandals
What’s the one item every woman needs in her suitcase when packing for Milan Fashion Week?
Flat shoes, flat boots or flat sandals. The cobblestones are a killer — plus, I feel like high heels are so out of fashion now. I’d rather see a sneaker with a fancy dress than a high heeled stiletto.
What sets Milan Fashion Week apart from the other fashion weeks?
The food. The Prada show. The Gucci show. The hot security guards in perfectly pressed suits. The drivers who care about your outfit and compliment it. The coffee at Cucchi with dapper Mr. Cucchi ringing you up at the register. The local women with tanned arms and beautiful gold jewelry, wearing flared skirts and kitten heels on their bicycles. It’s Italy….
Where are your favorite places in Milan to stop between shows for a bite and to recharge?
You’ll find me at Bastianello right before the first show, filing copy and sipping the best cappuccino in town. I love the new Marchesi for a quick lunch or Il Salumaio for a more civilized lunch right in the center. I also like Il Fioraio Bianchi for drinks. We’ve got info on these places and many more on the two Milan fashion week survival guides that we created for the Camera Nazionale dell Moda last season.
Hotel Senato
Best hotel for those flying in for Milan Fashion Week?
It’s sort of the usual suspects — the Bulgari, the Mandarin Oriental, the Park Hyatt and Armani’s hotel. A new small hotel just opened that I like called Hotel Senato.
Best little-known secret in the city?
There is an awesome planetarium designed by Piero Portalupi (my favorite mid century Milanese architect) in the Giardini Publici — which also happens to be a very cute park for jogging. Milan’s canals where we have our LaDoubleJ offices fill with water in the spring and summer and have such lovely outdoor cafes. Bar Luce — the cafe Wes Anderson designed inside the Prada Foundation — is in the middle of nowhere, and yet, offers excellent people watching.
Which Milan show is your favorite to see every year?
Prada. Without a doubt. It has been my single greatest pleasure since moving to Milan 15 years ago. The OMA-designed set is always almost as good as the clothes, the Guido Palau hair, and the Pat McGrath makeup. Even if the show is less strong compared to a past season, it always blows doors on everyone else. Always.
Tips for mixing vintage with the latest runway styles?
That’s our specialty at The number one rule is to never wear real vintage (i.e. anything more than 20 years old) head to toe. Just pick one solid vintage item — a flared 1950s printed skirt for example — and then jazz it up with super contemporary or masculine pieces, like a crisp button down shirt, or flat cool shoes or an oversized No. 21 sweater. Never wear a vintage handbag with a vintage dress — that just kills the modernity.

jj-martin-by-alberto-zanetti-for-ladoublej-com_2Photo by Alberto Zanetti

What’s your most prized vintage piece?
I have two fantastic Valentino haute couture dresses from the 1970s that are truly remarkable. One is all floral printed silk with an illusionistic back. There’s also an Oscar de la Renta flounced, embroidered purple and white striped garden dress that I would live in for the rest of my life if I could.
What’s your most prized new acquisition?
We have a new project called LaDoubleJ Editions where we make new clothes out of vintage patterns plucked out of the Mantero silk archive in Lake Como. I have to say, I have been wearing the printed skirts and matching printed shirts every day the whole summer and I’m still not sick of them! I’ve just started wearing our near deliveries for fall — the printed skirt in a hefty cool nylon fabric that feels like taffeta and seems like a sporty ballskirt. It’s so fun.
Honoring heritage brands and extending the lifecycle of luxury items.