There is a place in Milan where the exquisite dresses and colorful accessories of your dreams are a reality, a space sparkling with light and color; a true temple of shopping, showcasing leaders in design and craftsmanship; a place where you can find the most exquisitely emotive wares for your wardrobe. This is what you can expect from the Biffi Boutiques, which overlooks bustling Corso Genova – one of the most vibrant and quintessentially Milanese parts of the city.
This is the headquarters of the entire Biffi Group, which is lead with distinction by Rosy Biffi, a true pioneer of fashion and a trendsetter of international renown, as well as many other members of her large and distinguished family.
The Biffi empire is steeped in history, and its roots can be traced to the mid 60s when Rosy and her sister Adele, and then with Rosy’s husband, Franco Limonta, opened their first boutique in Via Fabio Filzi, and another in Corso Genova. It would be here, in the early 1970s, that a young architecture student, Gianfranco Ferré, would be given the opportunity by a prophetic Limonta and Rosy Biffi to exhibit a small collection of suede accessories (that today we would call a ‘capsule’), thus kickstarting the designer’s creative career.
It is just like Rosy to tell us, with a hint of amusement and a lot of pride, that she has been a godmother to some of the biggest names in fashion, making them well-known to the Italian public. At the end of the 60s, after numerous trips to London, she brought numerous emerging brands such as Biba and Quorum to Milan, and was even responsible for stocking the revolutionary Mary Quant miniskirt.
Over the years, the Biffi sisters honed their instincts as talent scouts, bringing forth Italian designers who were previously unheard of. Rosy and Adele were won over by the dazzling creations of Kenzo in the 70s, by the raw edginess of Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo and Matsuda in the 80s, and visionaries John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, to name only a few.
Biffi has been part of numerous collaborations, and has become synonymous with excellence, development, and trendsetting. One has only to look to the 2009 very first edition of Vogue Fashion’s Night Out, when the storefront of Corso Genova boutique was transformed in to a giant dollhouse with the mannequins being modeled off Barbie dolls, or to a special ‘pink’ event in collaboration with La Gazzetta dello Sport, or when Rosy incubated talents in multiple collaborations with Altaroma and the United Nations’ Ethical Fashion Initiative.
Rosy Biffi has not only showcased in her windows designers such as Stella McCartney (who at the start of her career was creating exciting installations with guitars inspired by her father, Paul) but also architects and artists, underlining the importance of mixing and collaborating with different aesthetic expressions – something which has become a core facet of the Biffi philosophy.
Today, there are five Biffi shops: in Milan there is the historic Biffi Boutique in Corso Genova, which includes both a men’s and women’s department attracting both Milanese and international clientele. There is B-Contemporary, a store which caters to younger male customers with items conceived to men who are looking for casual or sportswear, which does not sacrifice style. The group also boasts Boutique Banner in via Sant’Andrea, located in the Quadrilatero della Moda, and finally in Bergamo in via Tiraboschi, Biffi has two stores, one of which offers the best of contemporary fashion to men and women, while the other is devoted entirely to accessories offering designer handbags and shoes for every occasion and need.
Five stores, one unique DNA. Although each store has its own specific character, the stores are linked by a distinctive element, something unmistakably Biffi. Each store has its own style, mixing color, and expertly layering basic items with eye-popping details from some of fashions most avantgarde designers. Each boutique offers a chance to experience fashion and beauty thanks to the emphasis placed on the collaboration between architects, artists and designers.
The second floor of Corso Genova boutique – initially designed by Toni Cordero and renovated by the famous architect Gae Aulenti in 2002 – was recently refurbished and expanded, and Flawless Milano had the pleasure of visiting when it premiered.
When you climb the iconic square shaped stairs overlooking the contemporary section of the women’s department store (where even the most demanding denim afficionado can find the latest in designer denim), you reach the lounge where you can quietly choose the dress of your dreams. Greeting you as you come up the stairs, is a creation by design house, called the Tree of Joy – a ‘tree’ made of CDs which sprouts from the central lode-bearing column of the lounge and spreads out over the ceiling.
At the bottom of the floor there is the new corner: the golden resin floor repeats motifs from an Oriental rug in three dimensions, while pearls of light illuminate the walls and the hanging clothes.
Light pours into the shop giving prominence to the gorgeous creations within, transmitting feelings of serenity and joy. It is an ideal place for an utterly relaxing shopping session.
Every little detail has been examined by the discerning eye of Rosy Biffi, who make sure that with this new addition, the focus is maintained on always looking forward with creativity and passion for craftsmanship, while remaining true to tradition and personality. When asked what new projects lie in the pipeline we are told that a virtual redesign is in the works to strengthen and renew Biffi’s online presence, which fully respects the style and ethics of Biffi’s philosophy.
Photo credit: Federica Santeusanio