Angelo Ruggeri has been at the creative helm of Sergio Rossi for a year and already his impact is apparent. “The target was to get back to the origins in a way that was very pure, but still feminine and contemporary,” he said of the brand, founded in 1966 and fully acquired by Kering in 2005. “Most of my work centers around this — to refer to the DNA but also to evolve, building a new history.” Ruggeri, 37, previously worked at Giorgio Armani, Sergio Rossi and Tom Ford before returning to the company upon the exit of Francesco Russo last year. “Sergio Rossi has an amazing story as a family business. It’s a past we want to respect, but at the same time, explore new directions and evolve.” Here, we tour his favorite Milanese spots.
Angelo rises and fixes himself a sweet start to the day. “Milk and biscuits — I’m like a kid,” he laughs. He makes his way to the office, sporting Sergio Rossi tortoiseshell-print smoking slippers, paired with tailoring by Saint Laurent, a favorite. “I prefer to walk. It clears my head,” he says of the 20-minute hike to the headquarters in the center of Milan.
Arriving at the office, Angelo jumps straight into reviewing the press hits for the Milan fashion week presentation, held in an abandoned church. “We discuss this feedback with the merchant side,” he says, citing Neiman Marcus as a strong retail partner in the U.S. The response this season was positive. Angelo is particularly pleased by the reception to some of his more daring styles. “It was a confirmation of my initial feeling.” His reward is a quick coffee break. “Well, espresso. I’m very Italian,” he says, adding that three to four jolts a day are vital. Afterward, he meets with his four-member design team.
Angelo and I stroll to Museo Poldi Pizzolo. “My first job was for Mr. Armani. I was in charge of his collection footwear and Privé haute couture. In the beginning, it was difficult. You can’t appreciate the brand unless you have been there a long time. When I left the company, he tried to convince me to stay,” Angelo remembers. “Knowing him, it was the best compliment.” At the museum, housed in a former aristocratic Milanese residence, he takes me through the collection with a historian’s insight. He often spends hours here with a sketchpad and is drawn to the more unusual pieces. “Surreal takes on nature inspired me this season,” he says, citing his winged heel creations, recolored exotics and fur details for fall ’14.
Next stop: the Rizzoli flagship. “I always come here to research collection themes,” Angelo says of the bookstore. Of particular note is Paulo Coelho’s “Aleph.” “It’s very simple but has such depth.” Another book of paper blossom pop-ups triggered an idea for the fall ’14 presentation format with flora installations. “This part of the creative process is very important to me — to find the right key to tell the story of the season.”
Steered by a sugar craving, Angelo and I stop at Pasticceria Giovanni Galli, one of the city’s oldest confectionaries. We try the specialty: candied violet and rose petals. “Because life is sometimes not so sweet, you need to eat sugar just to look at reality a different way,” he muses. “That’s my justification.”
We pop into an art supply shop near Accademia di Brera, one of Italy’s most prestigious schools. “It’s a very magical place and important to my process.” We then visit Jamaica Bar for another caffeine hit, this time a marocchino. “This is my version of Starbucks,” Angelo says of the café. Afterward, it’s back to the office to greet key buyers in the showroom and answer email.
Angelo walks home, planning his weekend along the way. “I always go for a run — physical activity is very important — and I love to go to the cinema or out dancing,” he says. “I keep my home life very easy and light to stay balanced. The fashion industry is very complicated; there is a lot of stress and pressure. I can’t live in that way. My obsession is to be very consistent.”