Parlez-vous Fashion?: Around the World in Style

My darlings, as you very well may know, when you hop a plane (or train, or charter a yacht) to another country, there will be an entire other food culture, social culture, and perhaps most importantly another fashion culture waiting for you on the other side. Here are a few fab terms and designers to know before you have your passport stamped. Away we go!

Europe

Britain

The British Fashion Council Though it’s new to the game, Britain has climbed the fashion ladder in the past 20 or so years. The British Fashion Council, or BFC (www.britishfashioncouncil.com), is dedicated to “co-ordinating the London fashion exhibition scene. It showcases British designers and develops London’s position as a major player in the international fashion arena. As a result, London Fashion Week ranks alongside New York, Milan and Paris as one of the 'Big Four’.” So if you’re on your way to Cool Britannia, don’t write it off, fashion-wise! You’re now visiting one of the top four fashion capitals of the world! For fabulous fashion, be sure to visit the young and edgy Topshop and all of the delicious designer boutiques on Bond Street, like Burberry (pronounced “Bur-bur-ee,” never “Bur-berry”) and Fenwicks (pronounced “Fennix”), the Bergdorf’s of London.

France

Mode Quite simply, it means “fashion” in French. This is where the term “à la mode” comes from, meaning fashionable…even though in America we most often use it in conjunction with ice cream. Yum! Colette Though Colette (www.colette.fr) is a well-known French writer, the store is of a different namesake. Colette, on 213 Rue Saint-Honoré (pronounced “Roo Sahnt-On-Or-A”—translated means Saint Henry Street) in Paris, is an über-chic and young boutique known for its designer wares, from clothes to books to music and more—similar to a higher-end Urban Outfitters. Even so, it’s worth a look even if you aren’t buying anything. Some lines in the store include: Alexis Mabille, Longchamp, Keds (yes, Keds), and more. But remember, if you go to Colette, you should definitely dress for the occasion! When you’re shopping über-chic, you should look über-chic.
See what I mean?

Asia

Japan

Shibuya Shibuya (shib-oo-yuh) is the center of Tokyo street fashion, known to be crowded with teenagers dressed in all kinds of sassy and sometimes costume-y clothes. It is the place to be to check out any current Japanese trend you can imagine. Dare I say it almost defies description? This is just a taste:
Issey Miyake Issey Miyake (www.isseymiyake.co.jp) is one of the, if not the most, well-known Japanese designer. Miyake first launched his line in 1971. Today, he is known for thinking about clothes in an unconventional way, Miyake’s designs are sometimes more like architecture than fashion. Miyake’s design philosophy “challenges the conventional idea of garment making and strives to highlight the relationship between body and cloth.” Having regularly participated in Paris Fashion Week since 1973, Miyake continues to be on the more thoughtful, artful side of fashion. Pronounced “Issey” like “hissy” but without the h, then “Mee-yah-key”.

India

Prabal Gurung Prabal Gurung is an up-and-coming fashion designer born in Singapore and raised in Nepal, but got his design start in Delhi, India at Delhi’s National Institute of Fashion Technology. Since then, he moved to the states and has worked at design houses like Donna Karan, Cynthia Rowley, and Bill Blass, where he served as design director for five years before leaving his position to start his own collection. He will be showing at New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2010 (www.mbfashionweek.com/newyork), and you can check him out here!

Africa

South Africa

African Fashion International If there was ever a fashion governing body, African Fashion International is it. The organization founded, owns, and runs all of the well-known and respected African fashion weeks, such as: Virgin Mobile Cape Town Fashion Week, Durban Fashion Week (co-owns), Audi Joburg Fashion Week (autumn / winter) and Joburg Fashion Week. For those of you wondering, “Joburg” is short for Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city. Leopard Frock Leopard Frock is the store and line of one of South Africa’s most prominent and enduring fashion designers, Marianne Fassler. Consistently inspired by African culture, Fassler often makes use of bright prints, colors, and interesting textures in her lines. She has worked in the fashion industry for over two decades and consistently shows at Africa’s aforementioned fashion weeks. If you’re in South Africa, you can visit her at 34 Englewold Drive, Saxonwold, or check her out here to save on airfare.

South America

Brazil

São Paulo Pronounced “So Pow-lo” but called “Sampaul” by locals, São Paulo is one of South America’s biggest fashion destinations. With its own fashion week (which just finished, incidentally), São Paulo is urban and fresh with a ton of attitude. Now in its thirteenth year, you can check out São Paulo Fashion Week or SPFW, here for el “calendario official da moda Brasileira”, or the official Brazilian fashion calendar. The whole website is in Portuguese, but that won’t stop you from getting a taste of the sexy, sassy fashion culture of Brazil. Santa Lolla This Brazilian fashion line recently hired American top model Jessica Stam to shoot their latest collection, and has been featured multiple times in Brazilian Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire. If you’re looking for sexy, look no further!

Venezuela

Carolina Herrera The exquisite Carolina Herrera (Cah-ro-lee-nuh Heh-rare-uh) was born in Caracas, Venezuela and began her first fashion line in 1981. Since then, she has established herself as a purveyor of elegant, classic clothing and in 2008 was awarded the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. Herrera is now, and has for a while been, based in New York and continues to design with her signature elegance.

Australia

Victoria Victoria is a state in Australia which claims itself to the country’s leading fashion state, for the establishment of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival (http://www.lmff.com.au/) in 1997. Unlike other fashion weeks, this one is only once a year but draws a crowd of over 377,000 people. As Festival Director Karen Webster says, “… love life, love fashion, love L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival!” Camilla and Marc The line Camilla and Marc, designed by brother-and-sister team Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman, is one of the few Australian lines to make a splash in the United States as well. Freeman-Topper told Elle magazine, “Being Australian, we are geographically far away from the rest of the world, so there is less of a hierarchy among designers, which allows more freedom for new talent.” Even so, Camilla and Marc continue to impress with their clean lines and flowing fabrics from Down Under.
Sources: Websites: Colette British Fashion Council Shibuya Style Issey Miyake Prabal Gurung Marianne Fassler City of Johannesburg São Paulo Fashion Week Elle Magazine Carolina Herrera