Miyako Bellizzi & Natalia Mantini Gave Milan a Taste of NYC
On Friday, we debuted photographer-slash-stylist Miyako Bellizzi’s Milan photo diary; and today, we’re thrilled to present another series of photos Bellizzi worked on in collaboration with her close friend, wildly talented photographer, and Milk fav, Natalia Mantini.
Both based in New York with roots in California, Bellizzi and Mantini have that special, almost innate bond that’s common amongst New Yorkers with disproportionately chill dispositions. And so earlier this year, when the two founded CRAVE, a New York-based publication featuring their and their friends’ work, it felt like a natural next step. Suffused with their woman-empowering, starkly honest aesthetic, the magazine captures their shared, slightly foreign identity—or as Self put it, “the complexity of displacement.”
This past month, the two creatives found themselves, once again, displaced from their current home—and thus in prime condition to plunge, headfirst, into a creative endeavor. The location? Milan. The objective? To shoot a sweet editorial. And armed with nothing but a camera, some clothes, and model Armela Jakova, Mantini and Bellizzi did just that.
After they wrapped the shoot, we caught up with the photographer and stylist to find out what brought them both to Milan and how the city inspired their shoot.
So what’s Armela wearing?
Natalia Mantini: Miyako put together all the looks as usual and I brought along some pieces from Richardson and Huf. I think we lean towards somewhat masculine fits whenever possible and Miyako has a really cool way of adding pops of color and femininity to it. Richardson is one of my favorite brands currently; I’m really into the minimalism and references they use in their branding.
Miyako Bellizzi: Before I came out to Milan, I reached out to American brands. I love working with Unif because most of their pieces look vintage but can be credited. I think one of the toughest parts about styling editorials is [figuring out which brands to] use. Some publications are tougher than others, but almost always you have to include a certain number of brands and variation of brand names to be credited. I like to use a lot of one-of-a-kind vintage and I feel like Unif helps with that. [Then] Natalia, as she mentioned, brought over Huf and Richardson. Natalia and I are tomboys in the way we dress and like to style, so including men’s streetwear is a must in every shoot.
Are there any emerging brands you guys are really into at the moment?
NM: I tend to gravitate toward classic and minimal clothing; I’m more drawn to men’s apparel. I like vintage button-ups and oversized anything. I’ve always been really into t-shirts made by friends/artists/peers—I like to support that as much as I can. I recently ordered an amazing tee from LESTE Mag that I’m super into.
MB: My favorite designer is someone dear to my heart, Phlemuns. We’re old friends and he’s one of the most talented people I know.
Why’d you guys decide to shoot in Milan? Had either of you ever been there before?
NM: I had never been to Italy until this trip. [I] started in Amsterdam, [and] the timing worked out [with] Miyako, [who was] in Milan while I was in Amsterdam. I realized how cheap it would be to get over there, and I thought, why not? Once I booked my flight we decided to coordinate a shoot and pretty much winged everything. We both like to stay productive so I think if we can work on creating something while we’re together, we’re happy.
MB: What’s funny about Milan is that it is so unexpected. I went to Italy for the first time this past summer and fell in love, literally. I met someone. It wasn’t until I returned back to NYC that I realized I wanted to go back and spend more time in the city with this new love. Within two weeks I left my life in NY and low-key moved to Milan without knowing what I’d do or how long I’d stay.
Did you guys deliberately choose to avoid doing this shoot during Milan Fashion Week?
NM: We fully didn’t plan anything; I’ve never been so un-planned in my life, which is what I wanted to do for this trip. I wanted to take a break from New York and function in a completely different way.
Do you guys have any other plans for fashion month? Were you around for NYFW?
NM: I decided to take a break from NYFW and was still in Europe while it was going on. It was kind of nice to be fully detached, experiencing people and places that had nothing to do with it. I got inspired in other ways; I went to museums and met new people. I think it’s necessary to have some variety—it’s really easy to get burnt out and I wanted a change.
MB: For the first time I’m spending fashion week in Milan and Paris and not New York. It’s really refreshing to be in two completely different countries. I’ve been to NYFW and have done it for years. Europe in general is so different from the states in every way, but being here for fashion week is so exciting! Right now I’m in Paris and we’re in the middle of fashion week here. So far I’ve met a lot of amazing people and have had the best time! It’s not necessarily about going to the shows; the culture and the people involved are what make it.
And how was the actual shoot—can you tell me a little bit about that?
MB: The shoot was cute! We both didn’t know much about where and how we were going to shoot it, but we trusted our instincts and I think it turned out so good! We shot on the east side of Milan, close to Turro in a random ass neighborhood. I think if we had the means (re: car) or access to different places we would have shot in another neighborhood. I’m a believer in fate and I think it would have been a completely different shoot if we had shot in another location. But I think that’s what shoots are all about: making use of the resources you have.
NM: Since we had no idea where we were, we pretty much just walked around. I was looking for colors that popped out to me and that’s what [dictated] where we shot the looks. It was kind of funny to have no idea what you’re doing or where you’re going—I had never experienced that while shooting.
MB: I really wanted to do something different from Armela’s other photos. She’s so girly! I wanted to toughen up her look a little bit but still keep it playful and weird. I also wanted this shoot to express my personal style. And it did! I love the mix of looks we did. I would wear every outfit and that’s exactly what I wanted.
NM: I think we both knew we wanted to highlight some masculinity and dominance in Armela. We’d prefer to do that with most girls we shoot, but this one especially. I loved how the looks were so clearly created by Miyako.
All images shot exclusively for Milk by Natalia Mantini.
Stylist: Miyako Bellizzi
Model: Armela Jakova