When we drove past Al Bazar, our taxi driver, a young and very uber cool Milanese guy who looked like he would ordinarily be walking a cat walk and not driving a taxi, totally missed the store and towards the end of Via Antonio Scarpa decided to to a long reverse back up the empty street, the kind of reverse that you hear in movies, where the engine makes that really big wind up reverse sound. When the car haltered a Signor Alliata opened the car door and welcomed us to 'Al Bazar'. He opened the front door to the store and I was caught by surprise when standing in front of me was Lino Ieluzzi, one of the kings of men's fashion on the internet... and in magazines - but mostly these days on the internet. He had a movie star smile and I was thrown by the fact that I had watched this man turn up and be photographed at a hundred and one events and on a thousand street corners over the last four years since I started watching blogs and that here he was, right in front of me! How bizarre!
After a period of adjustment passed I was able to see that both Gianpaolo Alliata and Lino Ieluzzi were store owners of a particularly remarkable store which was in my opinion far more stimulating that anything I had seen on the high streets of Milan. Sure, Corneliani made amazing garments where every detail was thought of, sure, the fit out in some of these more established brands was interesting, but none had quite as much 'P' for Personality as Al Bazar.
So what is Al Bazar? It is a men's emporium on Via Antonio Scarpa in Milano. To get there you will need to get a taxi and allow at least 2 hours in the store. According to Gianpaolo Alliata, the store was founded around 40 years ago by Signor Lino Ieluzzi in 1969 with the aim of bringing artisan makers under one roof. Approximately 90% of the products for sale are private labelled Al Bazar products with the rest being some products hand-selected by Gianpaolo and Lino. Of all the suiting sold as Al Bazar, about 90% of the suits are sold Off-The-Rack with approximately 10% being Made-To-Measure. At Al Bazar, as you will see below, the emphasis is on having bold colours of jackets paired with different trouser colours. This is a signature of the house.
Apart from the double-breasted jackets made from blends of wool, cashmere, silk and linen, Al Bazar is also famous for it's colourful palette of pants and of course, the famous number 7 tie. The tie, which has been snapped by street fashion bloggers from acorss the globe, is usually made of wool or wool and cashmere and features a hand-embroidered number 7 on the front of the tie. The story of the origins of the tie were relayed in Italian from Lino to Gianpaolo and then to me in English.... So, if it is a case of Chinese whispers, I do apologise...The story is that the tie was made half in jest 3 years ago. Signor Lino had always had an affiliation with the number 7, he was born on the 7th of October and had found many lucky encounters with the number 7 in his lifetime. The ties are almost always made from cloths other than silk. Signor Lino much prefers cashmere, wool and linen blends for ties over pure silks.
If you are going to Milan then you must check out Al Bazar. It is one of those few signature institutions that you find in each city which play a defining role on your experience of that city. In my experience, I have never found a more fashionable city than Milan for men and much of the inspiration for those trends seem to stem from Al Bazar.
|Lino Ieluzzi of Al Bazar|
|Lino's wall of jackets is famed for having the most experimental and daring colour scheme of any store in the world|
|Centre and right, the famous hand-embroidered number 7 tie.|