Italian writer and creative consultant based in Milan, Naomi Accardi.
Italian writer and creative consultant based in Milan, Naomi Accardi.
Image: Supplied

Naomi Accardi is the picture of multi-hyphenate elegance and cultural suss. The Italian writer and creative consultant spent her formative years between the US and the Middle East (her father was a professional footballer).

She is the author of the newsletter Things I Thought About; editor-at-large at UK-based Season Zine, and the marketing director at fashion brand Sunnei. She lives in a Milan she loves for many reasons, but is at once conflicted.

W: What are the best areas to hang out, that are not tourist traps and allow you to mingle with cool locals?

Personally, I am a big advocate of my neighbourhood, the Pasteur district/Via Padova, which — thankfully — has been excluded from the rebranding project called Nolo, for now, though I think its gentrification is bound to happen fast.

Naomi Accardi in Milan.
Naomi Accardi in Milan.
Image: Supplied

It’s a very multicultural area and it offers mingling with diverse people and an authentic crowd. Porta Venezia is also a good area for hanging out and not getting sucked into tourist banter. There are good restaurants and a super-positive vibe.

W: The best coffee spot in Milan and why?

There are too many! But I’ll have to go with Pasticceria Cucchi. It’s an OG cafe and pastry shop in the historical centre of Milan. There are always very chic elders having aperitivo or breakfast, and their savoury croissants are to die for.

I love to go there for late breakfast and for afternoon espresso with my friends. There was a time when I would meet people there all the time and drink Vermouth with a side of roasted almonds. Their roasted almonds are the best.

W: Where do you find the best pizza?

There are a couple of good pizzerias I usually suggest to people. It depends on what kind of pizza you are after. My absolute favourite place is Pizza AM. They have only five flavour options, if I am not mistaken, and they are pretty basic but authentically good. I also like Crosta and Mani in Pasta, a pizza delivery spot in the north of the city.

W: When I was in Milan recently, I did some shopping at Stussy and Carhartt, not too far from the Prada Foundation. What is that area and what characterises it?

Stussy and Carhartt are in what I would call the streetwear district of Milan: the Corso di Porta Ticinese/Navigli area. It’s a fairly touristy spot, usually the go-to area for university students and young’uns alike. People who just moved to Milan hang out there.

Colonne di San Lorenzo is a famous meet-up spot and it’s not too far from those stores. The Prada Foundation, on the other hand, is in an industrial area on the southeast side of the city. There’s not much going on there for now, but there is a huge redevelopment project for the Winter Olympics.

W: How would you describe the Sunnei brand to the uninitiated?

Sunnei’s peculiarity is its chaotic energy. The brand is digitally native and acts more like a media agency rather than a consumer brand. It’s rebellious and fresh, yet it employs refined materials and fabrications.

SUNNEI's Showroom/OBJECTS II Installation.
SUNNEI's Showroom/OBJECTS II Installation.
Image: Supplied

It’s “Made in Italy 2.0” — a brand for young creative professionals looking to have fun with their wardrobes. It does not follow trends or designs based on what the market wants, rather it tries to deliver collections that are unique, comfortable and a-seasonal.

I think what sets Sunnei apart from other brands is the founders’ ability to have tunnel vision and stick to their beliefs no matter what.

W: What is your personal style, both for home and self?

My personal style is quite simple and sporty. I have always dubbed it “janitor-chic” because of the modest pairings and conservative silhouettes. It’s a mix of workwear and archive pieces that I either stole from my parents’ old wardrobes or scavenged the internet for. I am very big on Issey Miyake too; you can easily find me wearing a full Pleats Please fit. I am also quite conservative in my colour palette; I favour simple colours like black, navy, white, grey.

In my home décor, I am the total opposite. I love colour and I realised I tend to buy mostly orange and cobalt blue accent pieces. I live in a ground-floor apartment with a private backyard (which is very destitute as I have the worst green thumb) and when I originally got my place it was an open space.

With the help of a longtime friend who is also an architect, we designed a special structure made of metal and polycarbonate panels to divide my bedroom, it’s very industrial. So I’d say I bring a utilitarian undertone to my interior design too, but unlike my clothing, I downplay it with colourful accessories and accents.

 

W: How could one make Milan more fashion friendly?

I’d need to change things in Rome, inside the government. The Italian government and consequently our fashion council are so not supportive of young talent it’s a joke. The high taxation, poor incentive scheme and lack of resources drives designers away, to start their brands elsewhere... so we are stuck with the traditional homes, which is OK but we are supposed to be the capital of fashion!

Big groups attract talent, but I don’t think they do a good enough job at elevating it.

Lastly, I think we collectively need to start using our heritage as inspiration rather than aspiring to be American.

W: What is Milan’s best-kept secret?

Milan’s best-kept secret is Pasticceria Cucchi in the Sant’Ambrogio district. It’s a traditional coffee shop with a bar and pastry counter. I love it for breakfast and aperitivo alike. I try to meet people here all the time, though it’s on the opposite side of where I live.

W: Is the Duomo district as busy all year, every day — including further on around the Velvet Grey Hotel where we stayed — or was it only because of Fashion Week?

The Duomo district is busy all year round, especially on the weekend. That’s where people from the outskirts of the city come in and stroll around.

Milan is a great city for business and to meet people, but I would not suggest visiting this city if it’s your first time in the country. Maybe a little stop-over, but it does not represent the beauty and historic heritage of Italy. Visit Sicily!

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