Cities: Fashion in Stone and Steel?

Cities have served as hubs for the fashion industry for centuries. In the present day Paris is the undisputed fashion capital of the world. Maggie Cady (see her blog at writes of her love for Paris and the fashion vibes in the city. 

Vibrant and restless, cities grow and exist like living things. They embody the spirit of their citizens and yet also emanate a larger indefinable character. Visiting a city is like entering a whole different world, one that washes over you in a synthesis of sounds and sights. I write this looking out over the balconies of Paris and marvel at this city’s soul. Art, creativity, innovation, pride, elegance and strength make up its limestone and wrought iron backbone.

Above all I associate Paris with fashion. How could you not? As home to some of the biggest haute couture ateliers in the world it is synonymous with fashion even for the non-aficionado. It seems that fashion is in the very atmosphere of the city. Whether walking down the Boulevard St Germain or sitting in a café the street style reflects the elegance and confidence of the Parisian runways. People take care in their appearance but the ambience of fashion goes beyond that, as most of those I’ve encountered seem to have a genuine interest. So how are fashion cities created? Do they gain this consciousness because their history in art and trade gives a sense of worldliness and luxury? Do they grow organically from the evolving tastes of the people who call them home? In my opinion the birth of fashion capitals like London, New York, Paris and Milan are a bit serendipitous. While port cities and national capitals certainly have advantages for the fashion industry it is harder to pinpoint the exact origin of the style of a city. Nevertheless the “look” of a fashion metropolis can be an almost tangible thing.

I find that just as the people you spend time with can affect everything from your accent to your posture, so do cities touch you. It can be a lasting impression or a momentary effect but there is something powerful about the spirit of a city and perhaps the human tendency to assimilate. I definitely channel certain fashions when I am in Paris that although part of my own personal style, seem to carry a certain weight here. The abundance of black and white in my suitcase and a passion for red lipstick testify to this phenomenon. Beyond the visual, cities influence a person’s mindset and bearing. For me, Paris means another macaron s’il vous plaît and a bit of sashay in my step to go along with that joie de vivre.