Monday, 12 May 2014


The other day I made a quick visit to Milan on the invitation of a longstanding friend of mine, Giansandro Cantori who owns a very smart lifestyle magazine called beSpoke for the launch of his beHouse concept. 

A Maserati had been arranged to pick me up from the airport, a handsome new four door model which smelt as though it had only just left the showroom. Settling into the reassuringly firm leather passenger seat, I noticed that the dashboard was clear of the usual array of dials giving a pleasing sense of simplicity and modernity with only a touchscreen visible. With that said, in contrast with the streamlined dashboard was a clock that looked as though it was better suited to be sitting on Grandma's mantelpiece. 

The Maserati eased me smoothly into the courtyard of the hotel Carlton Baglioni, a discreet hostelry behind scented jasmine hedges and boasting a 19th century mansion, with a faded and rendered facade in ochre and only a short walk to our shop on Via Manzoni. The beHouse reception was held at a townhouse in the old part of Milan and featured some of the best examples of Italian craftsmanship from bespoke shoes, handmade shirts, tailoring from Naples, (those masters of the shirt sleeve shoulder) to furnishings, perfumes and a barber. I chatted to two guys wearing matching Kilts (promoting their company, In Kilt) made from no nonsense denim and worn with industrial looking boots and workmanlike socks rolled over just so you could say they were in kilter. 

Giansandro invited me to try a wet shave, something I have never been tempted to before but the barber looked competent and experienced so I thought I’d give it a go. As I sat in the vintage chair and hot towels were applied followed by an ample brushing of almond shaving soap, I relaxed into my chair as the razor passed smoothly over my chin. I noticed their products neatly arranged and all beautifully packaged in red and cream striped boxes and made a mental note to visit their shop in Via G Morone.

Established in 1904, I wondered why I had not heard of Antica Barbiera Colla before. Tucked away off Via Manzoni, it's a traditional barber shop and the walls are plastered with photographs of famous clients. I purchased some products but was surprised they made no cologne; I was assured that it would soon be added. I managed to squeeze in a couple of magazine interviews before being whisked off to the airport by Maserati, apologies to Aston Martin but when in Italy...

Jeremy Hackett