Pupi Solari may hail from Genova but she has become a mainstay on the Milanese Style Scene, defined by her sophisticated sartorial selections and outfitting three generations of loyal customers along the way. Her eponymous clothing empire, which also includes the mecca for baby and childrenswear as well as the go-to menswear shop HOST, Pupi Solar refuses to slow down despite her advanced age. She may personify the calm, cool and collected charm associated with good manners and social decorum, but this brazen dame is as sharp as a tack and as colorful as a kilo of jelly bellies and would rather answer client calls at midday than join the ladies who lunch. As she turns her back to age, Solari sheds light on style dictum, her preferred friend group and why weddings should always be held in the morning.
“I don’t really drink so food is my drug,” laughs Solari. “Whenever I do dinners, I always fear there isn’t enough food, so there’s always too much a total excess!”
Solari stays true to her Genovese roots: “You cannot get good basil in Milan and you cannot grow it here, so I bring back a little plant from Santa Margarita when I go at the weekend.” Her kitchen operates as a Cucina Genovese. Lunch is simple and quick with cose leggere. When not serving pasta, verdure ripieno is a favorite.
“I make my own pesto, da mano, not with a blender which bruises the flavors.” Pesto is not served with Trofie pasta but instead with linguine. Her go-to brands include Linguine by de Cecco #7 or Delverde Linguine #11.
She uses Sambucco Mario Deruta plates for more formal dinners, while Richard Giorni plates are used daily for lunch and casual suppers.
“If things are very busy at work, I will order food from Leoni, which I love.” For dessert a torta di crema con frutti di bosco from Marchesi is her mainstay.
“I love to receive friends at home more than being a guest,” says Solari. “If I am a guest at someone’s house their gift is my presence as I am very shy and don’t like to go out. But I do sometimes like to bring olive oil by Fattoria Dianella.”
Solari thinks and behaves like those much younger than her. “From my group of friends, I’m the only old one. They are all 30 or 40 years younger. They’re all creative and mainly men. I am so proud of them.”
“I hate old people,” Solari confirms without hesitation. “They’re always complaining and unhappy. I don’t want to fall into a discussion about how my knee hurts. When I die, I will die. I’m not obsessed with age.”
Solari dismisses the myriad beauty products on the market. “Women should age gracefully. I don’t use any creams but I do like to use Tonico Spray Lentivo from the Farmacia Internazionale in Santa Margherita and an after-sun cream as I like to be in the sun.”
Solari is very clear on the origin and ethos of her eponymous shop: “I made a very precise choice of clientele. The product I chose was very discreet, and very high quality because I wanted a quality clientele not a quantity. I am now dressing my first clients’ children and grandchildren.”
For inspiration on her shop brand and on how to dress Milanese men and women, she turns to Jil Sander. “I was a disciple of hers. I learned so much from her, like how to buy. She was mythical for me. I constructed my woman around that idea: pure, clean but not minimalist! It’s not boring.”
Solari’s personal dress is as curated as her shop. “My sweater is by Tomas Maier, I love his stuff. I have a shawl front cardigan in navy blue with a velvet border that I wear when I want to be dressed up. I love velvet Venetian slippers. I also have Car Shoe moccasins which I wear regularly.”
“I don’t like sandals for the city, only for the seaside. Feet should be covered in the city.”
Solari is most comfortable in soft neutrals and classic tones. “I either wear blue or khaki. Those are my go-to colors. I never wear patterns.”
“Many women don’t have the courage to dress non moda,” Solari affirms. “Women go around naked these days! Their boobs are out. There’s a continual provocation. Even the 12 to 13 year olds are going out like women twice their age. I hate that. They’re afraid. I suggest to beautiful women to have the courage to go against fashion.”
“I love it when children look sporty. I don’t like babies wearing formal jackets. I hate it! No polo shirt, no sweatshirt. They shouldn’t dress like dwarves! At six years old they can have a jacket. “
“I like simple dresses for girls, little cotton aprons. I don’t like pearls and crystals—its not elegant. I love Levis for babies and for adults too. I’m crazy about them, for two year olds to 100 year olds, but only the classic 501 and 511. “
Solari firmly believes in matrimonies from another era. “For me a wedding should be in the morning at 11am with the family—even if there are 300 people. Unfortunately now 80 percent of weddings are in the evening with a huge party. Why don’t they do the party another night?”
“Weddings have lost their symbolism,” sighs Solari, “Everyone lives together anyway. They’ve already gone to bed together years ago—probably the first night they met. The brides are much more high maintenance, now they come with a long veil without a border and its not very elegant.”l
Cosa leggero– something light and easy
Non moda– not following fashion
– Meredith Nichols