Mapping Fashion

By Effie Speridakos

Italy, France, and Britain may be united under the title Western Europe, but the same cannot be said for their definition of fashion.

Florence, Italy is home to good food, fine wine and some of the most revered designers in the industry – Salvatore Ferragamo, Guccio Gucci, Emilio Pucci and Roberto Cavalli. Of course, this place is a style Mecca. Here, little black dresses are made for lounging and leather is a second skin.

Italian fashion is synonymous with flawless tailoring, which is why you have probably never seen an Italian muffin-top. The type of sex appeal the women of Rome and Milan exude is much different than the sex appeal that is so celebrated in America.

Even in the hell pits of July, an Italian won’t be caught in short shorts. Instead, the Italians switch to cooler fabrics like linen and light cotton, and swap rubber flip flops for gladiator sandals. Rather than exposed thongs and plastic cleavage, an Italian woman’s provocativeness comes from a wrap dress hugging every appropriate curve or peek of lace.

Italians have taught the world subtle sensuality and elegance through dress. Their elegance is maintained in their stature as they stroll over cobblestone streets in stilettos, never once glancing down or getting their heel caught. Fashion has a natural place within the Italian culture, which is why a true native has an effortless and intriguing style about them.

To spend a weekend in Paris during Fashion Week would be any fashionista’s dream come true. Energy radiates from the smart outfits of every passerby. The image of a middle-aged woman dressed in a glitzed-up derby hat, fur coat and textured tights carrying a classic chain strap Chanel is forever frozen in time. A glimpse of Louboutin’s trademark red sole was revealed as she strode across the street, sparking her cigarette.

This scene embodies Parisian flair at its finest. Rather than lazy sweats and Uggs, Parisians find comfort in beauty. They flaunt shirred fur – not North Face. The women of Paris don’t need to trend-chase, but always step out looking fresh and modern. To quote style-master Carrie Bradshaw, Parisians “dress in love” – if they love it, it’s worth loving.

Britain may not be home to great teeth or food, but its people do know how to dress. The country is good at exporting dress-conscious figures like the Spice Girls and the Beatles.

In London, fashion means uber-cool grunge. Camden Market is the birth place of vintage. Icons like Kate Moss and Alexa Chung light the city with a sense of fashion that is all its own – as underground as their Tube system.

Punk-rock is a signature style of fashion in London. The skull and crossbones look is a signature of late Brit designer, Alexander McQueen. Thanks to neighborly influence from Scotland, Brits rock plaid perfectly. Spikes, distressed fabric and eclectic hair dye are all in line with fashion in the streets of London.

Fashion, like culture, is as diverse as the countries from which they derive. Whether it’s Florence or London, the fashion embodies the style and flare of the people who live there.

Effie Speridakos can be reached at [email protected]