Paris, fashion capital? It is at any rate reputed for it. How is Paris perceived today on the international fashion scene? What do “French fashion” and “French luxury” mean today? Emeline Alfandari, expert in the very exclusive industry of luxury gives us her opinion on the current perception of fashion and luxury throughout the world.
Emeline, you lived in Paris, Marseille, France; in Dallas, Texas and in Seoul in South Korea among others. Throughout the continents, what differentiates Paris from the other cities regarding the fashion and luxury industries?
“To me, Paris is the hub of fashion and luxury. The “Parisienne” is and remains a symbol of this culture and this heirloom. Not that other cities such as Milan, London or New York are lagging behind, however there is some kind of nimbleness the “Parisienne” embodies and this makes her unique.
Likewise, the “maisons” are symbols of luxury and couture, the crème de la crème of fashion is essentially made of French names.
In a nutshell, the strength of the luxury industry today is made of chief designers from all over the world that enables these “maisons” to exert such an influence while respecting the “French légèreté” as Lancel likes to call it.
Each city, each country has its own cultural and fashion identity. Even if luxury brands are the same, how they are perceived never follows the same pattern.
In Marseilles, sportswear is the climax of fashion. Luxury is seen in exclusive collections from Nike and Vuitton bags. In this city, it is somewhat glittery and even vulgar at times even though some brands very popular in Paris are originally from Marseilles. Aix-en-Provence on the other hand is the capital in the south of France for sophisticated outfits. The women there are so to say the “Parisiennes” from the south, with the benefits of a natural tan.
Texas is such a different world. Wealthy women show off their Hermès and their Vuittons with pride, they wear Ralf Lauren polo shirts and enjoy galas in evening dresses. And yet, there is always something odd: southern girls do not have the savour of Europeans, the art of putting colours together, the cut of their trousers always look slightly too 80s. Texas is the land of women in flip-flops in the weekend and moccasins with tights during the week. Dallas embodies casual style, nothing to do with “Sex and the City” girls from NYC.
Finally, Korea. To me, it is one of the countries that could compete with France. Koreans – men and women alike – have that sense for what is beautiful and artistic. Korea went through a lot economically speaking. Men and women are beautiful there and the image and the situation of individuals within a group are important. Koreans use fashion as a way to express themselves, to identify themselves.
Just like “Parisiennes”, they like to wear international brands along with second hand items or basics. Just like the Japanese, they are ahead of us, even if they are more classic. To me, Europe and America are the cradles of fashion, then it travels to Asia, Japan and Korea. They make it wearable and send it back to us.”
For the whole interview (in French): http://mespensesidiotes.blogspot.com/