Beyond Paris, London and Milan: the Next European Fashion Capitals

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Even classics are avant-garde in Amsterdam – Photo: David Laport collections by Peter Stigter

 

The ‘big four’ fashion capitals of Paris, Milan, London and New York dominate global trends, but cities around the world still strive to create their own distinct fashion identities.

At off-the-beaten track fashion weeks, under-the-radar talent is striving to express local identity and aesthetics, and doing so eloquently. We asked three voices fluent in the local fashion dialect to interpret European style in Amsterdam, Madrid and Moscow

1. “It’s already crazy enough” Amsterdam

Edgy and highly tailored to every individual – Photo: SPRMRKT

 

“Amsterdam is a super-liberated and free town,” says Nelleke Strijkers, founder of the concept store SPRMRKT, which opened in Amsterdam in 2003 before relocating to Ibiza in 2016. “Lots of things are possible.” At the same time, “Dutch people are a bit boring and not very outgoing. We have a saying: ‘Please act normal, because that’s already crazy enough,'” which often translates into a uniform of “jeans and basic clothing”.

There might be exceptions—Strijkers flags the glamorous, up-and-coming designer David Laport, a recent winner of the Woolmark Award, and “super colourful” Bas Kosters. But originality dominates. “Lots of fashion designers, like Jean-Paul Gaultier, or the Japanese, come to Amsterdam just to watch people on the street because everybody dresses differently.”

In three words, how would you describe the Amsterdam fashion scene?

Original, fresh, local

What should you pack if you’re coming to Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam?

Layers—as you never know what the weather will be like. And try to be different: dare to stand out, be original.

What should you leave at home?

Sunglasses—they’re not needed outside and we don’t have Anna Wintour sitting front row.

Three must-do things while you’re here?

Visit a museum, like the Stedelijk or Rijks Museum. Go to Noordermarkt on Monday morning—great for vintage bargains and try the best apple pie in the city from Cafe Winkel.

The best one-stop concept store?

Check out De Hallen food market and cinemas in a former tram depot converted into a cultural centre. Westergasfabriek, a converted factory with restaurants and bars.

An up-and-coming local designer you should buy?

I’m in love with the jeans collection from Hardeman, but there are a lot of young interesting brands.

An established local designer you need in your wardrobe, and why?

Moniquevanheist—she doesn’t make a new collection every season but keeps the same designs in different fabrics. Her collection is a range of super classics with a twist.

2. “Easy-going and cool” Madrid

Delpozo’s playful yet radically elegant designs – Photo: Delpozo pre-fall 2017 collection

 

“We don’t have a lot of tribes like London,” says Mario Canal, contemporary art and fashion correspondent for Spanish Harper’s Bazaar and Icon, a mens’ magazine published by El Pais. “We don’t struggle to identify ourselves as different. There’s no need to polarise society. Everybody does what they do.”

“In Madrid, the fashion is very relaxed and easy-going and cool. Girls like to be pretty but they don’t overdo it. They have long hair and they’re not afraid of showing their bodies—perhaps because of the weather—but at the same time comfort is fundamental.”

“Our women are not like Parisian girls who wear high heels all day. A Spanish woman can’t understand why you’d want to do that.” And while Parisians pay attention to following trends, their sisters south of the Pyrenees care more about self-expression and having fun. “We like going out with our friends, with our families. We like going out a lot…”

In three words, how would you describe the Madrid fashion scene?

Intimate, easy-going, open.

What should you pack if you’re coming to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid?

Comfortable and slick clothes. Madrid is low-key but we have an eye for details.

What should you leave at home?

Your Louboutins.

Three must-do things while you’re here?

Have some cañas (beer served in small glasses) or soft drinks in a cheap bar; watch the sunset by the Egyptian Temple of Debod; visit the Prado Museum and nearby Retiro Park.

The best one-stop concept store in town?

Ekseption; High-end, sexy, glamorous, fun and exclusive garments. You won’t need Paris anymore.

An up and coming local designer you should buy, and why?

Palomo Spain. A whole new generation of creative minds are gathering around him and his genderless and sexy clothing made him a Louis Vuitton Prize finalist. He dresses Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus.

An established local designer you need in your wardrobe, and why?

Delpozo, for its playful yet radical and elegant designs—totally mind-blowing and beautiful as wild flowers.

3. “Dressing up and showing off, but with taste” Moscow

The elegant menswear style of Artem Shumov – Photo: Artem Shumov SS17 collection

“Russians like to dress and to show off… but with taste”, explains Alexander Shumsky, the President of the Russian Fashion Council and founder of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia.

Russian fashion is booming, with 250 requests for the 50-60 available slots each fashion week, while new talents are discovered “literally every season.” One current star is the designer Gosha Rubchinskiy, who in January persuaded fashion editors and buyers from around the world to make the long trip out to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast just to see his menswear show.

In general, Russians have a long appreciation of traditional craft. “Some designers can be a bit too decorative because Russian clients are keen on that. But we also have minimalist ones.”

Each region has a specific style. “You always know that a brand is from St Petersburg when you see a collection with an elegant, rainy mood,” says Shumsky.

In three words, how would you describe the Moscow fashion scene?

Young, vibrant, promising.

What should you pack if you’re coming to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Moscow?

A coat and scarf because in October it could be already snowing and in March it could be still snowing.

What should you leave at home?

A guide on “How to drink vodka”. Moscow is good for cocktails.

Three must-do things while you’re here?

Walk through Red Square at night (just around the corner from the #MBFWRussia venue, Manege), browse art galleries in Vinzavod, and go to the Bolshoi Theater (ask for the historic stage).

The best one-stop concept store in town?

Le Form (already 20 years old).

The best restaurant/café/bar for Moscow street style during fashion week?

Any place at Patriarshiye Ponds. For drinks, check out the Mercedes Bar at the top of one of the famous Stalinist skyscrapers.

An up and coming local designer you should buy, and why?

Artem Shumov is a menswear designer you have to know, with a sharp style. Also Mach & Mach because they just dressed Katy Perry, so you deserve it too.

An established local designer you need in your wardrobe, and why?

For truly Haute Couture attire you have only one destination in Moscow – Slava Zaitsev Fashion House. Slava is the Godfather of Russian fashion and an amazing couturier, nicknamed the Red Dior by the international fashion media scene.

 

Indulge in a fashion-inspired journey on your next trip with Club InterContinental. Our hosts and Concierges at InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, InterContinental Madrid and InterContinental Moscow – Tverskaya will de be delighted to arrange itineraries and meetings for you.

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