lROSSELLA JARDINI lives on the posh Viale Majno, Milan’s equivalent to Fifth Avenue, where enormous, pre-war apartment buildings come caked with frosting-like stucco and armed with grand booths for their full-time doormen. Lofty airs wave along this exclusive avenue, not only across the street at Donatella Versace’s palatial apartment but also inside Jardini’s pastel-painted home, where she is faithfully tended to by her uniformed maid and butler.
Though a license for snobbery may be easily issued here, the mood at Jardini’s abode is as cozy as a cashmere blanket. This fashion icon has perfected that rare Milanese mix of high-class manners cut with a racy edge. She answers her door wearing a bathrobe and a fresh-in-December St. Tropez tan, topped off with dripping big gold jewels and black Marni eyeglasses. “Ciao!” she sings warmly, hugging two king Charles cavaliers, Jolie and Charlie, the latter named after Coco Chanel’s own king Charles and both as well-groomed as their master.
“This is a house in which people feel very comfortable,” says Jardini, settling into a patterned Moroso couch in her lavender-colored salon with an afternoon glass of champagne, poured for her in a vintage Baccarat coup. “It’s very homey and comfortable. It’s been my refuge these last months. I’ve felt very protected.”
Jardini left Moschino in October 2013, after 32 years at the iconic Italian brand, first serving as muse to its inimitable founder Franco Moschino in 1981 and later, after his death from AIDS in 1994, as its chief creative steward. The departure, she admits, came as a shock. “I made the mistake of thinking Moschino was mine,” she says. “I always thought they would promote one of my assistants one day and I would stay on in a supervisory role.” Instead, Moschino replaced her with the LA-based designer Jeremy Scott who has taken the house for a sensational turn with his controversial McDonalds- and Barbie-themed collections.
“I used to wear a lot of new Moschino,” says Jardini with a bittersweet laugh. “But obviously I can’t go around in a McDonald’s sweatshirt. And neither can any of my friends.”
But this does not mean that Jardini doesn’t have any sizzle left in her. On the contrary, this is a woman who will likely strut around in a leather mini skirt until she’s 90. And who wouldn’t with her teenage-tiny legs? While most women today find themselves taking a risk by mixing high and low fashion, Jardini’s loot is 100 percent exclusive and expensive—there is not a speck of high-street folly anywhere in her gigantic nine-door closet.
“I’m always dressed up,” Jardini explains. “There is no dressed down. It doesn’t exist.”
Whether she’s running to the dentist or taking Charlie and Jolie for a walk, Jardini does it in high style. In the winter slush, she loves a bold, total all-white look—vintage Moschino wool pants, crisp Aspesi shirt, Hermès leather hiking boots and an oversized vintage Moschino coat—and somehow manages to keep the entire ensemble spotless.
Jardini feels as comfortable in classic Ferragamo wedge-heels (re-edited from the 1940s) as she does in new Balenciaga and gold metallic rock n’ roll cowboy booties from Hedi Slimane-era Saint Laurent. Like all legendary ladies in Milan, she relies on her trusted, top-grade tailor, Sartoria Angela, who custom-makes bon-ton trousers in printed silks or sexy bohemian dresses stitched together from rare fabrics Jardini finds, such as luxurious Chanel haute couture purple and gold silk jacquard.
Though fashion is in the forefront of her life, the home she shares with her long-time companion Piero Mocarelli, is a serious ode to fine Milanese design. Mid-century furniture gems, including a Gio Ponti-Fornasetti butterfly desk and console, a blood red vintage Venini chandelier, Eames chairs, Fontana Arte mirrors and a Bosoni dining-room set, are boldly situated in lofty rooms painted in shades of lavender, periwinkle and sage. The high-brow design is shaken up with witty Moschino-esque touches—from huge snail and cupcake pillows, to playful piles of teddy bears nestled into corner baskets, to gold jewelry, vintage glass and silver objects that spill over desks and cabinets like pirate’s treasure.
“The first few months I couldn’t stay at home so I went to [work for] Aspesi because they’re another family for me,” she says. She also spent six months at Missoni. “But it was just a play. I said, ‘Here comes the fashion intern!’” Now she is resting and enjoying leisurely lunches with girlfriends at Milan’s Barracco di Sambuco in Via Montenapoleone. But the downtime won’t last for long. Jardini has bought the trademark to the historic Milanese fashion brand Cadet and has already colonized another apartment to house a future work studio and, of course, another closet. “I have no intention of not doing anything,” she declares. Of that, we have absolutely no doubt.
– J.J. Martin