As a kid I loved visiting the city center of Milan. It was fun to run fast across Piazza Duomo to scare away the pigeons or look up at the windows in Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele and no matter what the reason why we were taking the trip, there was one stop my parents and I always made: La rinascente. From the ground floor with the sales assistants offering samples of the latest perfume to tables of soft Cashmere sweaters on the women’s wear floor and all the way up to the restaurant with its incredible views of the Duomo cathedral, everywhere I looked I saw a wonderland of elegant style.

 

La Rinascente in 1950

La Rinascente in 1950

Women shopping at La Rinascente in 1966 | Photo by Ernesto Fantozzi

Women shopping at La Rinascente in 1966 | Photo by Ernesto Fantozzi

 

Founded by the Bocconi brothers in 1865, a few years after the unification of Italy, the store we know today as La Rinascente was originally called Alle città d’Italia and modeled on a famous French department store Le Bon Marché.

 

The Bocconi brother's store in Milan, Alle citta d'Italia, in an early drawing.

The Bocconi brother’s store in Milan, Alle citta d’Italia, in an early drawing.

 

In 1917, the Italian senator Romualdo Borletti became owner of the store and, after having it renamed La Rinascente by the famous Italian author Gabriele D’Annunzio, took it in a more democratic direction. Focusing on both a high and middle income clientele  La Rinascente became an elegant department store that distributed high quality and luxury products at accessible prices.  It was an innovative and, above all, winning concept.

 

A selection of ladies hats in an early La Rinascente catalogue.

A selection of ladies hats in an early La Rinascente catalogue.

 

Thanks in part to the collaboration of Gabriele D’Annunzio, the store became one of the most important cultural meeting places of the city. Over the store’s long history many notable artists and designers, including Marcello Dudovich, Gio Ponti, Max Huber and Lora Lamm, have contributed to La Rinascente’s products and advertising. This influential community has helped create an aura of  elegance, innovation and superlative style around the store.

 

A vintage ad for La Rinascente by Marcello Dudovich

A vintage ad for La Rinascente by Marcello Dudovich

An advertisement designed by Max Huber for La Rinascente

An advertisement designed by Max Huber for La Rinascente

 

A poster for La Rinascente designed by Lora Lamm

A poster for La Rinascente designed by Lora Lamm

 

The brand’s interest in art and culture was confirmed in 1954, when it founded the Compasso d’Oro prize, awarded to the best industrial design objects.

While the store was born in Milan, other major Italian cities eventually got their own La Rinascente in town. This helped the chain survive the great economic crisis of 1929 and continue to expand with a new branch in Sardinia in 1931.

 

A liberty style poster for the La Rinascente located in Padova's Piazza Garibaldi

A liberty style poster for the La Rinascente located in Padova’s Piazza Garibaldi

 

Over the past decades, the La Rinascente in Piazza Duomo continues has become a must-visit destination for Italians and tourists alike.  It is one of the best-known Italian brands and offers its shoppers access to Italian style with a high quality guarantee.

 

An ad for La Rinascente from 1968

An ad for La Rinascente from 1968

 

While I no longer enjoy chasing pigeons, one thing that has remained the same is that I always make a trip to La Rinascente whenever I’m in Milan.  There, you can do some serious shopping for yourself, your husband, you kids and your pets, all while knowing that when you become tired there’s a cup of hot chocolate with cream waiting for you on the top floor terrace in front of a panoramic view – all this in one historic building in the center of Milan.

 

The Rinascente in Milan lit up at night.

The Rinascente in Milan lit up at night.

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