The Fashion Capital

In the month of February , as the city is trying to breathe some life, art and creativity into 2017, there are two amazing events taking place.  Paris Men’s Fashion Week and Paris Haute Colture Fashion Week. I was lucky enough to attend both events last year and not only did I have a truly wonderful time, I felt very inspired.

It’s long been established that Paris is not only the fashion capital of France or Europe, but of the whole world. Milan is incredible, London is amazing and Tokyo is so cutting edge, but nothing compares to Paris. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you are making clothes, or showcasing them, this is the city where you need to be. But has anyone ever wondered why?

I guess it’s one of these established facts about the world. London is the banking capital of the world. The British had a global empire and English ( although highly debatable by a number of academics ) is the default business language of the world. So that makes sense. But Paris and fashion, where exactly is the connection. Like many things, we have to look at history.

 

Put simply, they were the first to turn into an industry. In terms of manufacturing, sourcing of raw materials on the large scale and responding to the market demands of the day by creating different designs, Paris led the way. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, the monarchy. Ok, Europe had a lot of kings and queens but the vanity of Louis XIV, really got the ball rolling in the fashion world. He was going bald, so he increasingly started to wear outlandish wigs to cover it up. And while the monarchy may have died in France, the upper class still kept the traditions of excess and luxury. To such an extent, in fact, that it made their European counterparts rather jealous. And from that point, enter Charles Worth.

 

His story, is like many other fashion designers except for one slight difference. Historians are all pretty much in agreement, that we was the first, major fashion designer. He wasn’t a tailor responding to individual demands, he was mass making items in response to demand and the style and design of the day. And from him, the list just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Whether it’s Louis Vuitton or the ground-breaking 20th Century designer Chanel. What started in the pages of history, just keeps moving forward. And if you take yourself to any fashion event in the French capital this year, you’ll have a clear idea where it is going.

Lady Liberty

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A recent walk along the Seine, I noticed a replica of the Statue of Liberty. Yes, a replica. That’s what  I thought and that’s what I said to my French friend when she looked at me in a facial expression that was a delicate mix of horror and humor. “This is the original one. The one in your country is a replica”, she replied. Was this something I was suppose to know? I must have missed it in history class.

 

Walking along the Seine, about 30 miss after the Eiffel Tower, away from the centre, you’ll find a smaller “version” of New York’s most iconic statue. I know the story behind the Statue of Liberty. It was given by the French to the U.S as a gift to celebrate American Independence. I think this is common knowledge in the U.S but I didn’t realize that our  American one was the real replica.

 

I did a little bit of internet research and all I can say it God bless the internet, because although the iconic statue was given the U.S in 1886, the one I was looking at was actually a replica. Don’t get me wrong, it is interesting and to accidentally stumble upon it, without knowing about it was a real surprise indeed. But it was created after the New York one.

 

The nearest metro station is Javal, and the statue is on a tiny island on the Seine river. You just have to walk across the Pont de Grenelle. It’s pretty cool.

 

But the reason I wanted to write this post was because I actually found the “original” Statue of Liberty and she really is in Paris. It was constructed by Frederic Bartholdi. Before he made the absolutely massive one, he made a smaller one, 6ft in height and also constructed in bronze. My guide book told me I would find it in the Jardin du Luxembourg and beside her is a memorium to the 9/11 attacks in New York. When I went to look for her, she was gone. The plaque is still there but no statue. With no French, I didn’t know how to ask where it was.

 

Luckily, the very next day, while I was checking out the Musee des Arts et Metiers, I found her. Right outside. It was the second time in a few days, I stumbled upon the design. Apparently, there are a few other examples or replicas of the statue scattered across Paris and copies of the design can be found in places as far off as Beijing, Ireland and even our beloved Las Vegas, which pretty much has a copy of everything.

 

So I guess the moral of this story is too not believe everything you are told and see for yourself. Paris will surprise you everytime.