Before Uberta Zambeletti opened Wait and See in an ex-convent building in Milan’s new creative district, the city wasn’t exactly renowned for the colour and vibrancy of its fashion scene. “And that’s why I wanted to do it,” says the style insider, who has studied in Paris, Madrid and London, at the Royal College of Art, and worked for the likes of Missoni, Etro and MaxMara. “I felt it was a shame that women here were not being given the good mood, the choice, the joy and decent price points that the rest of the world had to offer in its boutiques. Milan was not representing any of it.”
Now, five years later, Wait and See is a destination in its own right. It has propelled the district into a fashionable, niche shopping location called 5Vie (Five Streets), and attracts buyers from China, Japan, Germany and Finland. They come for the pure, joyful madness of the space, the chalk drawings and cheerful messages on the pavement outside, and, above all, the stock, which always includes “gold high heels” and resembles a candy store for women who want to inject colour and prints into their lives.
Her customers comprise a new, cool generation of Milanese fashion stylists, photographers and bloggers (stylist Candela Novembre, the wife of architect and furniture designer Fabio Novembre, is a regular), but it is also important for Zambeletti (first picture) to attract the twentysomethings right up to the eightysomethings – women from all walks of life who want to feel comfortable in their clothing, whether they’re at the park, opera or office. She strives to keep her wares affordable and offers pieces to suit most price brackets; nothing is over €850 and if you are only browsing or buying stationery, so be it.
“I don’t want this place to be like the typical Milanese shop with stark lighting and attendants in uniform,” she says. “If I can make someone smile by just looking at our window display, then that is already a huge achievement.”
This fashion veteran certainly knows her stock, however. Peter Jensen is a favourite designer, and while her initial choices were quite conservative, now she is free to introduce his more outré designs. But there are another 80-odd brands to choose from – all independent, most you won’t have heard of. Pieces for winter include Arthur Arbesser’s shiny, silver-foiled skirt (€353) and shirt (€293), Sartoria Vico’s stripy knit culottes (€198) and shoe designer Paola D’Arcano’s beautiful black Lurex and silk-jacquard lace-up heels (€291). Other key looks include Happy Sheep patterned cashmere, including a fabulous jumper with a graphic bird motif (€350, second picture), plus Circus Hotel’s pink purl-knit jumpsuit (€258). Accessories are also a Wait and See strong point, and Anne-Grand Clément’s rainbow-hued triangular pattern clutches (€365) are to fall in love with. And as the brand grows, Zambeletti is adding her own lines, such as bespoke brass cuffs (€80) with messages of hope imprinted on them, and mugs with a red scrawl proclaiming La Vita è Bella (€17). It is here.