Bonjour, hej, ciao: Adventures through European Fashion Weeks

Katie RuberyAs Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

These wise words help explain my absence over the past few weeks. Although there has been radio silence from my column across the sea, I swear the fashion has been busier than ever. Fashion Weeks have concluded and I, myself, have been traveling to radically different parts of Europe to really understand the way fashion works. In the past four weeks I’ve been to Paris, Copenhagen, Bordeaux and Florence. In each city the fashion shares similar tendencies but overall, is dramatically different.

To begin with the most important and close to home, Paris Fashion Week (PFW) was overwhelming in every sense of the word. Between the street style and the catwalks, I was in pure fashion bliss. What I loved most about the week was that being part of fashion week was inevitable. Everywhere you looked there were models smoking, important people dining and stressed workers running rampant. The stress you witnessed only brought you closer to the glamour. The week impacted the city in ways New York never could experience. On Thursday night I sat in my economics class decked out in platform heels and a knee-length blazer, ready to infiltrate Paris fashion week. Although I never saw anyone famous, the experience of walking down the Champs-Élysées and having some champagne was enough to make anyone feel like Brigitte Bardot or, sinful to say, a Kardashian.

Courtesy of KATIE RUBERY  Paris Fashion Week was overwhelming in every sense of the word.

Courtesy of KATIE RUBERY
Paris Fashion Week was overwhelming in every sense of the word.

At a later time I’ll be able to go through all technicalities of PFW, but right now I can really only focus on the revolutionary art productions and incorporation of social media.

Both Dior and Chanel made headlines this year with their unique, lust-inducing themes. The Chanel airlines show, located at a transformed Grand Palais, was something truly Lagerfeld. Between the luggage and the pins, every first class VIP got an insight into the classic yet fresh new Chanel designs. Pulling away from the unfortunate Wild West themes of past seasons, Lagerfeld has successfully combined the subtle Chanel charm with an innovative approach on everyday ideas. In particular, I adored the incorporation of a baby pink to offset the stark navy blue. This charismatic combination is bringing Chanel to the forefront of fashion week once again.

Meanwhile, the Dior show brought nature to life, effectively changing their girly, ephemeral style into something tangible. The floral arrangements worked perfectly with the clothes and delicate models to create the epitome of Dior. The nude color palette and “barely there” makeup further dramatized the elegance of the Dior woman.

“Although the muted palette at the Dior Spring/Summer 2016 show might appear to be a bit too simple for two seasons that are associated with bright colors, the simplicity in hue draws attention to the aesthetics and design of the collection. In particular, the razor blade pleats, wide stripes and scalloped hemlines are perfect for the classic Dior woman, whether she’s getting a tan in the south of France or sipping lemonade in the Hamptons,” junior Libby Ford, another student studying in Paris, said.

I always knew PFW would be amazing but I never expected the innovative magic that occurred between Sept. 30 and Oct. 7.

Following PFW, I headed to Copenhagen for a totally different experience. The decadence of Paris Fashion Week was soon traded for the minimalist lifestyle of the Danish people. While I loved the women’s fashion, what really stood out were the home decor and men’s looks.

Copenhagen is a city of black, white, navy blue and tan. The sleek blond hair, shaved on the sides to balance the messy tops, complemented the straight lines and simple color palette of their wardrobes. Almost all men were seen with black cuffed skinny jeans, simple T-shirts and long manteau coats. The simplicity, in addition to fresh white sneakers, made for an undeniably sexy and confident look.

The casualty of life and dress in Copenhagen is infectious. During my travels I stopped at several thrift stores and restaurants. Each building had its own individualistic approach to that hipster style we all so badly try to recreate on Instagram. Between the men’s style and the shops, the streets of Copenhagen definitely need to be revisited.

Finally, this past weekend I spent time in Florence with my best friend from high school. Her apartment, located in the city center, was ideal for people — and fashion-watching. Overall, Florence is a beautiful city with a hodgepodge of cultures and peoples. Largely Americanized, Florence fashion now includes Lululemon and sorority T-shirts.

Looking beyond the surface, however, you can find the true Italian style. La dolce vita was no exaggeration as I found the Italian style too decadent in an almost greasy way. The use of studs, leather and bleached highlights was incredibly common. For me, Italian fashion was always one step too far. I loved the sleek black coats and high ponytails, but occasionally an element of glitz overshadowed the beautiful simplicity of the Italian clothes.

On a positive note, there is no doubt in my mind about the quality of Italy’s products. Although I largely just enjoyed the pizza instead of shopping, I was able to see first hand the lengths designer quality is appreciated there. During my visit I was able to stop by the Museo Gucci, located next to the Uffizi Gallery. There, I was privy to celebrities’ formal wear, original Gucci collections and old Hollywood treasures. To the Italians, fashion is an art, and one they are good at.

American student Mary Ammielle Nichols noted that all her finance courses discuss the prowess of Italian fashion.

“All of my professors say that whenever you see a good bag, it is Italian because you can trust it. Italians know how to make a bag that will last,” she said. “Cars, on the other hand, will always be German or American. We just don’t know that the way we know fashion.”

This dedication to fashion is symbolic of Italy’s artistic appreciation lasting over centuries. Here, passion will always outweigh practicality.

As I fly back to Paris, I am incredibly ready for the fall and winter fashion that is starting to emerge. As much as I love to travel, Paris has become my home and the fashion I am most comfortable with. In the next few weeks I will see Amsterdam, Berlin, Kraków, Geneva and Brussels, but I have a feeling my allegiance will always remain with ma chèrie Paris.

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