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Sunday, April 05, 2020

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Talking point: what is the fashion capital of the world?

A month-long marathon of autumn/winter fashion shows has just reached its climax. If editors and buyers could duplicate themselves, they could have attended some 165 shows and presentations in New York; taken in 52 at London Fashion Week; watched 37 in Milan and clocked-up no less than 83 in Paris.
Spanning eight days (just one day less than Paris), there's no denying that New York Fashion Week is chock-full of new collections to see. The city was voted top fashion capital of 2013 by Global Language Monitor, which trawled over 250,000 online sources to come to that conclusion, and noted that Paris was just half a percent behind.
But what do fashion insiders make of that status?
The Telegraph's fashion team came back form their front row reporting in the Big Apple feeling motivated to a pen a pieced headlined: 'New York the fashion capital of the world? Come off it'. Citing 'unedited flotsam on the New York catwalks' and a lack of organisation as two of their main bug-bears, it's clear that the city's fashion week is lacking that je ne sais quois as far as our correspondents are concerned.
So what does a New Yorker think? Hayley Phelan, fashion features editor at Lucky magazine can't be drawn on her actual favourite fashion week per se. "It's like picking a favorite child," she explains. "It's tough! Each has its own energy and strengths. I love the buzz and experimental spirit surrounding London and New York's young designers - but then you can't beat the old masters that show in Paris and Milan."
Naturally, Phelan says that she can't afford to miss the shows on her doorstep. "Not only do I always look forward to seeing what innovative designers like Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler will do but it's also a chance to catch up with old colleagues and friends (some of whom live overseas most of the year) and get fully immersed in the industry for a week and a half."
She definitely believes that her home city has an edge on its European rivals. "New York does everything bigger-and that includes fashion week" she says. "The sheer amount of shows, presentations and events that happen in the city during that time can be mind-boggling. Yes, it can make for a hectic and stressful schedule, but there's also something exciting about it. You can't help but be swept up!"
Her job aside, she cites New York and London as the best cities for shopping - "by a hair!" for "their better selection of vintage."
Of course, Phelan is biased towards the city that never sleeps. So are her views shared by an outsider?
Justin O'Shea is the Berlin-based buying director for, a luxury e-tailer based in Munich. He travels for his job tirelessly for over 10 months of the year - to much further flung locations, too.
Thornton speaks frankly: "To be honest, Paris is dictating everything in fashion at the moment," he says. "Absolutely everything. Despite my personal afflictions to NY and London, I love beautiful things which ultimately lead to a beautifully successful business. You can't beat Paris for both."
His view is shared by London blogger Susie Bubble (real name Susie Lau), who racks up hundreds of Air Miles to cover the collections for her blog, Style Bubble.
"Paris is and always has been the ultimate fashion capital for me - their shows reach heights of creativity as well as commerce that designers in other cities don't," she tells The Telegraph.
Lau adds: "There's gravitas to many of the shows because they happen to be houses with history too."
Meanwhile The Telegraph's Lisa Armstrong sums up the style capitals succinctly: "London for new talent; Paris for big names and despite what everyone says about Italy, Milan for wearable luxury, e.g. Dolce & Gabbana and Prada."
But what about shopping, which is on offer for everyone?
"New York for shopping is pretty great because of the range of multi-brand boutiques," says Lau. She also adds weight to Phelan's view on London's reputation for vintage but that's also because she knows exactly where to look.
Lau says Milan is brilliant for "all the mono-brand shops like Prada and Miu Miu - they seem to have the best range of stock whenever it's fashion week making it irresistible," while Lisa Armstrong loves Banner, "a multi-label boutique with great eye."
So what about Paris? "St Germain, for furniture and fashion and all those independent label shops" thinks Armstrong, while Lau admits that she is not as knowledgeable about City of Light's shops but thinks "the range of shops has gotten a lot better in the last few years."
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