Monday, 6 July 2009

The True Fashion Capital

London. Paris. Milan. New York. There’s no doubt that these are cities with fantastic fashion scenes, and trying to say any one is better than the other certainly sparks debate, but how is it that four such immensely different locations all compete for the same title?

London’s fashion scene is perceived as flamboyant and edgy. On the catwalks and especially in high-fashion and couture, London is full of eclectic designs and unabashed creativity. The top end of high-street fashion is characterised by the young Topshop and H&M shoppers, who may not be able to afford the big designer names, but certainly know how to wear a style! London is still an established fashion centre, with a very successful fashion week, which is 25 years old this September.

The French capital, of course, is known for its smart, tailored-to-precision fashion, and still retains huge respect and intrigue from fashionistas worldwide. Even in the smouldering heat, Parisian women of all ages can be seen in their perfectly cut, perfectly faultless outfits, looking totally aloof and completely unbothered by the weather, by tourists or street vendors. Paris is also home to its very own Musée de la Mode et du Costume (Museum of Fashion and Clothes), located in the so-called ‘upper class’ 7th arrondissement of Paris, which somehow seems to envision the feel of the whole French fashion scene.

Milan encompasses the stereotypical vision of the fashion and modelling industry. As you fly into the city, you are greeted by an enormous Giorgio Armani billboard, which really sets the scene for anything you might discover beyond the airport. Milan is truly all about the fashion, and this famously chic city really does adhere to the idea that “you can never be too rich or too thin”, though notably this year the Elena Miro fashion show opened with size 14 and size 16 women modelling new designs, created for ‘real women’. Though the styles of Italy vary from season to season, Milan is home to the chic-est of the chic in the world of fashion, and rightly has a reputation to match.

New York City is best-known for its semi-annual fashion week, which attracts international designers, artists and superstars into its audience. New York is certainly the fashion capital of America, being home to a countless fashion designers and hundreds of thousands of hopeful models, and an incredibly diverse and shifting fashion scene. In the United States, Los Angeles is where all the famous people hide out (or perhaps not hide, given Michael Jackson not even being able to die privately), so it’s interesting to note that the main fashion scene happens away from sunny California.

Each city has clearly earned its place in the list of fashion capitals, but the fashion they present and the way fashion is perceived within them is utterly different. So which is the True Fashion Capital? I think it depends on your style and your persona – when it comes down to it, it’s all relative.