NYC: Shopping the Fashion Capital

Girls weekend! In need of some retail therapy, a girlfriend from high school and I went to exciting New York City for a weekend of shopping and, well, more shopping.

Our hotel, the Ritz Carlton, was located merely a block away from fabulous Fifth Avenue where we spent the majority of our weekend. Saturday morning, as soon as the shops opened, we energetically began perusing the racks at Bergdorf Goodman. Floor after floor of beautiful clothing beckoned us. Three hours and a pair of Armani pants later, we emerged slightly less energetically from the historic walls and began our walk down Fifth Avenue. Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany, Escada, Cartier, Gucci! We could have shopped for days, if our feet would have allowed it. After making it halfway down the strip of shops, my perfectly pedicured and Manolo Blahnik shoed feet begged me to take a break. Reluctantly, we stopped into a sandwich shop for lunch. After reenergizing with food and rest, we found ourselves back on Fifth Avenue in Yves Saint Laurent. I was in search of a pair of sunglasses that would fit my face, and be trendy without being too trendy. Erin, my good friend and former optician’s assistant, had been brutally honest about the glasses I had been trying on throughout the day. But we both found ourselves falling in love with a pair of dark brown round lenses in YSL. I usually deliberate over my potential purchases, but I didn’t blink before handing the sales associate my credit card.
Erin’s beautifully tailored Armani pants and my YSL sunglasses were the only purchases made on this first day. We walked tiredly back to the hotel, purchases in tow, to collapse in our room watching The Cosby Show before heading out for the evening.

We did not leave that first shopping day without a valuable lesson, though. Food, caffeine, and comfortable (while still cute) shoes are necessary for the abundant amount of shopping we had planned.

The next morning was a fresh start. Donning my much more practical Cole Haan sandals, we ate a hearty breakfast (okay, I had a Coke, a waffle with chocolate syrup, honey, and sugar on it, and a bowl of fruit, but I was not lacking energy afterwards). The evening before, we had made a list of all our must see stores and we started on our trek to find them. By chance, we wandered into Salvatore Ferragamo where I found a perfectly adorable silver charm bracelet. In addition to two Ferragamo horseshoe charms, there were two crystal studded shoe charms and a crystal encrusted heart. As I mentioned earlier, I brood over my potential purchases before committing to them. Erin and I made it exactly one half block before I made us turn around so I could buy the bracelet.

We then proceeded to SoHo where we stopped for lunch. Long term energy was a goal in this meal, so I stuck to a turkey sandwich, no chocolate syrup on top. In SoHo, we wandered through the narrow streets taking in the New York City atmosphere and searching through the shops. The crowds and hot, humid weather started to exhaust us and so we began searching for a Starbucks. What we found was even better…Betsey Johnson. The boutique seemed a wonderful resting place. Erin could relax while I got to try on all those adorable girly girl dresses and shoes. To our dismay, the air conditioning in the store was not working but it didn’t stop us. The dress I found had an old fashioned rose print on cream fabric and a pink silk bow wrapped around to create an empire waist. The classic style was redefined with a form fitting shape and a double cut V neckline. I also found myself purchasing the most perfectly pink stiletto heels. For lack of a better way to describe them, I have nicknamed them my Barbie shoes. They are bright pink with an ankle strap and a peep toed heel adorned on top with a large pink and light pink wire and glass beaded flower. I love the dress because it will never go out of style and any time I want to feel feminine, I now have the perfect shoes to do so in.

We spent a significant amount of time debating the pros and cons of a sexy black and red corseted and ruched gown in Dolce and Gabbana, but I ultimately decided against it and we headed back to our Central Park hotel.
Monday, our last day in the city, we found ourselves back on Fifth Avenue one last time to visit Burberry (where Erin found a trendy pair of blue shades with the Burberry plaid logo on the sides) and Christian Dior. In Dior, I found a gorgeous brightly colored bikini (for half off, mind you) and a cute gold bracelet with pink glass beads and charms that spelled out Dior. Shopping in Dior was the perfect way to end our perfect New York weekend.

If you find yourself in New York City, I would recommend going to SoHo before Fifth Avenue. The area feels much less touristy and much more New York City. July, although quite hot, is a great time of year to visit. All the pre-fall clothing is coming in and stores have dropped the prices on many of the summer clothes to make room for the new merchandise. Be sure to think carefully and plan out your excursion. There is so much shopping to be done in this metropolis and you could never make it into the stores you truly want to see if you don’t plan carefully. Don’t do as Erin and I did and look hopelessly for Saks on Madison or Park Avenue without remembering that the store is called Saks Fifth Avenue. Check to see what time shops open before you get up early to go to them just to find they are all closed. No matter how comfortable you think your three inch Jimmy Choo stilettos are at 10 am, don’t wear them. They won’t be comfortable at 3 pm when you are making your way up four flights of stairs at Louis Vuitton. Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast, drink lots of Starbucks and water, stop for lunch, and, most importantly, have fun!

Milan-Fashion Capital of The World

Milan is a city in the north of Italy. The city rests in the Lombardy plains and it is home to a population of 1,308,500 inhabitants. It is thought that the city was first settled by the Celts around 600BC. Milan was then captured by the Romans around 222BC and by the 4th century the city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. In the 11th century, the city was granted semi-independence by the Romans, but in ensuing years Milan faced invasions by France and Austria. The city regained independence in 1859, but it became a stronghold of the German army during World War II.

During this time, Milan suffered extreme bombing and large portions of the city were destroyed. Since the war ended in Italy on April 25th 1945, the city has been rebuilt as a stylish and welcoming metropolis.

Despite Allied bombing, the city does boast some stunning architectural treasures. The Duomo Cathedral was built in a late-Gothic style and boasts 1,000 statues and beautiful views from its spire. Equally impressive is the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church, which is also home to Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’. The lovely area around Porta Ticinese is also worth a wander as this old fashion quarter was almost entirely untouched by the bombings.
The city is renowned for its stylish residents and Milan boasts an abundance of shops where visitors can follow the latest trends. For those looking for exclusive (and expensive) items, the area around Via della Spiga is an essential visit. While the district around Buenos Aires Avenue offers equally beautiful, but slightly more affordable goodies.

For shoppers looking for more unusual items, the Porta Genova area is home to numerous interesting independent stores. The city is dotted with plenty of charming cafes and cosy restaurants where visitors can relax and enjoy the unique atmosphere and style of Milan.

The Biggest Fashion Industry Events in the World

The five fashion capitals of the world hold the most anticipated annual industry events known as fashion week. The latest creations from top designers and brands are showcased in these presentations. Runway shows are the highlight of any fashion week, and this is the venue where fashion enthusiasts, buyers, and members of the world media can participate in the unveiling of the latest offerings of the creative geniuses behind the fashion industry. In these cities fashion week is held twice a year and ahead of the advent of the new season so that buyers and the media are given a preview of what the fashion houses have in line for the upcoming season. The schedule is also set as such so that retailers have ample time to incorporate the designs into their own marketing and arrange purchases ahead. The autumn and winter collections are showcased in the months of January to April, while the spring and summer collections are unveiled in the months of September to November.

The locations of the most important clothing trade shows are held in the cities of Paris in France, Milan in Italy, London in the United Kingdom, Berlin in Germany, and New York City in the United States of America.

London Fashion Week

This event has made history in 2010 when all the events happening on the catwalk at were broadcast on the Internet via live streaming. It was the first time that any major fashion event took advantage of digital technology. London Fashion Week is held in the capital city of the UK in September and February. It is one of the “Big Four” clothing trade shows in the world, the other three being the events held in Milan, Paris, and New York. Toni & Guy, a prominent hairdressing company and the famous automobile brand, Mercedes-Benz, officially sponsor this program. Reports indicate that orders made in the London Fashion Show amount to anywhere between £40 million to £100 million. On-schedule events are typically held at central London in Somerset House. Off-schedule events are also organized and held elsewhere.

A West London car park was the birthplace of the event. That year, 1984, fashion icons such as John Galliano, David Fielden, Ghost, and Betty Jackson debuted their creations on the catwalk. The event had the support of the British government and Vogue UK.

Paris Fashion Week

This is held twice a year as well primarily at the Carrousel du Louvre and additional venues in Paris. The French Fashion Federation determines the specific dates for the fashion week, but it usually comes after Milan. The fashion week in New York City starts out the “Big Four” followed by London, and then Milan, ending in Paris. Major fashion houses based in France are the main features of Paris Fashion Week, with names such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Dior, Guy Laroche, and Comme des Garçons headlining the impressive lineup. The event usually features haute couture events and men’s fashion shows in addition to shows featuring ready-to-wear garments.

The first Paris Fashion Week was held in 1973.