A New Book by La DoubleJ’s Founder Captures Milan Life in All Its Vibrant Contradictions

Eventually, little by little—or as the Italians would say, piano, piano—Martin surrendered to the nature of her surroundings. And wondrous things happened. “When I stopped blaming and fighting with Italy, Italy stopped fighting with me. When I did less, I got more,” she writes. Friendships blossomed and flourished, the cultural nuances became sources of inspiration and aspects to emulate, and Martin, in a sense, found herself—or at least a new sense of self. “When you surrender and just let go, not only are you more attuned and open to the beauty of what’s around you, but then you’ve also cut yourself down to zero. That’s the point where you can create something new,” she tells me.

An image from La DoubleJ’s fall 2022 campaign, featured in Mamma Milano. 

Photo: Amina Marazzi Gandolfi

Beyond explaining some of Milan’s unusual social norms, Martin offers a rich and panoramic-seeming view of the inner lives and customs of her new neighbors: the deeply-held importance of family close relationships; what it means to dress like an Italian with exuberance and pride in one’s bella figura; food, aperitivo hour, and the art of hosting. (Note: it’s less about recipes than it is about ingredients and attitude.) She provides insight into the extremely stylish, appearance-keeping housewives of Milan, known as sciure, noting the stark contradictions—the simplicity of a meal, against the maximalist, over-the-top abundance of its table settings, for example—while simultaneously celebrating them.