The Four Fashion Capitals of the World

As with many things, location is a key factor in the success or failure of a model. Proximity to jobs means you can get there faster and cheaper, and in the fast moving fashion industry, quick turnaround is often a deal breaker. You should always put yourself where the action is. As a general rule, big cities offer many more opportunities than smaller places, as the clients and agencies are concentrated there.

There are four major fashion capitals in the world: London, Milan, New York and Paris.

London

London has a long history as a trendsetter and leader in world fashion, and in recent years has been named as the number 1 fashion capital of the world thanks to the ascendency of Kate Middleton and the London Olympics. The vast majority of the international modelling agencies have their main UK offices in London and it is the base for hundreds of fashion photography studios and the supporting teams, including the best photographers for glossy magazines.

London’s fashion hub is located in Soho, in the centre of the city between Oxford Street and Picadilly Circus. This area is full of trendy shops and bars and has a bustling cosmopolitan atmosphere.

The major modelling agencies are mostly based in Central London, around South Kensington and Leicester Square, including: Elite, Storm, Premier Model Management, Models 1, BMA Models and Next Models.

Milan

In 2009 Milan was declared the top economic and media capital of fashion. There are a great many world famous Italian fashion brands which have their main headquarters located in the city, including: Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. Milan Fashion Week is held twice a year and is one of the Holy Grails for catwalk models.

New York

The only recognised fashion capital outside of Europe, New York is a metropolitan city that never sleeps and is home to the cutting edge of innovation is style and culture. New York Fashion Week, branded Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek in 2009 is held in February and September every year – and was originally the first ever fashion ‘week’.

Paris

Paris has a long standing history as a centre of art and fashion and is home to several prestigious fashion houses. It is known for the classic timeless elegance of the designs that are born there. It has an up market high fashion shopping district where all the most exclusive labels can be found.

What a Summer in Milan Can Do for a Fashion Designer

Milan, Capital of Fashion

Milan is the fashion capital of the world. This is the place where it all happens because the city revolves around fashion and great design. In Milan, the biggest offense you can commit is having an imitation purse. This is the reason why people who want to learn about fashion often dream about attending a fashion school in Milan, but the idea of living in Italy for years can be intimidating–not to mention expensive. That is why designers should consider an intensive, summer program instead.

So what can an up and coming fashion designer hope to gain from summer school in Milan?

1) Experience – Being in the center of the fashion capital means that you have the chance to see your education in action. You have a chance to see just how fashion works in the real world. Experience is something that you truly need when you want to be the best at something. Attending a design school in Milan is the fashion equivalent of a soldier going through boot camp in Afghanistan.

This experience will look great on a resume and help a young designer get in the door of the real decision makers back in the States because experience is the best teacher. Here is a little secret about resumes–executives rarely read them word for word. Basically, if a company is hiring, the boss will skim through a stack of resumes looking for any interesting detail that sets a person apart. Having the name of a fashion school in Milan on a designer’s resume, combined with some great looks and styles in their portfolio, might be the winning combination to landing that dream job. Rubbing elbows with the fashion elite in Milan will inspire new design ideas while toughening a designer up to be able to handle rejection and harsh criticism.

2) Competition – Since Milan is the fashion capital, it is only natural that people all over the place are competing with each other for the top spot. This will help the new designer become more competitive when they are launching their new line and establishing their presence in the business. Stiff competition is the best thing that can help the development of new talent in fashion design. By going to a summer fashion school in Milan, designers will be putting themselves through a trial by fire.

3) Discipline – Because of the high expectations of fashion schools in Milan, a new designer will learn how to be disciplined and get things done on tight deadlines. Fashion, although it involves creativity, requires a lot of discipline and downright hard work in order to be successful.

4) Opportunity – When attending a fashion school in Milan, there will be all kinds of contacts and opportunities available. Attending a fashion summer program in Milan means having the opportunity to scout the industry for niches while still having the freedom of being a student. Because of this, a designer who stands out in Milan, will be on the fast track to finding a job within the fashion industry. Establish connections and get to know the big players. Also, don’t attend a program unless it will also be able to supply some contacts in order to help a new designer get started in a career in fashion.

Milan, Fashion Capital of Italy!

Milan is the business, fashion and design capital of Italy, with numerous fashion and trade fairs in the Rho` district of the city (previously held in the Fiera district). It is also Italy’s second largest and richest city. The city is split into 9 zones and full of beautiful architecture, lively nightlife and many museums and exhibitions. As Milan is based in the very north of Italy, Switzerland is only a short distance by train, so worth a day trip if visiting the city. The stunning scenery of Lake Como and Lake Lecco is also worth a day trip and again a very short journey by train.

Centro Storico (the historical centre) is full of life, with many things to see and do. In this area you will find the huge Piazza Duomo and Duomo Cathedral, (see above photo) the castle Castello Sforzesco, the world renowned opera house La Scala, and stunning shopping gallery, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.(see below photo). Also, just a few minutes walk away from Piazza Duomo, are Via della Spiga, and Via Montenapoleone, two of the most famous influential fashion streets possibly in the whole world. These streets are richly concentrated with fashion designers, jewellers and furriers. Every designer imaginable has a shop or two in these streets: Armani, Iceberg, Luois Vitton, Dior, Bottega Veneta, to name just a small handful. When Milan holds fashion trade fairs at numerous times of the year, these streets can be seen full of people from the fashion industry (designers, manufacturers, buyers etc) both day and night, visiting the shops and shop windows observing what new fashions ‘are in’,getting new ideas and looking at the impressive window displays..

Navigli is a lively and fashionable (canal)district (the Navigli Canal runs through Milan), where you will find many bars, cafes, live jazz concerts and antique shops. (photo below of Navigli district by night)

Brera, is a very fashionable district not far from the centre, which used to be known as the ‘artists’ quarter’, and very bohemian in it’s day, inhabited and frequented by poets and artists. It remains a very ‘in’ area today, and is a very exclusive and fashionable district, with boutique shops, ‘sophisticated bohemian’ homeware shops, bookshops, restaurants, and bars. This area is also where you can find the famous Pinacoteca di Brera, one of milan’s most fashionable art galleries, exhibiting works from many well known artists, including Rubens and Canaletto. This art gallery is housed in the 18th century palace Palazzo Brera. This area is also home to the very exclusive fashionable 10 Corso Como, which can be found along equally fashionable Corso Como (many bars and restaurants frequented by the rich and beautiful). 10 Corso Como is a shop, restaurant and bar housed in a beautiful courtyard lit up with candles and fairy lights at night, and definitely somewhere to go if you want to impresss anyone, such as business clients for a meal, or maybe a romantic date….the shop sells and exhibits luxury high fashion designer wear, jewellry, shoes and other various items. It remains open most nights with the bar and restaurants, and you are offered complimentary glasses of champagne while you browse. Brera also houses some of Milan’s famous nightclubs, frequented by models, footballers and the ‘in’ party crowd. Corso Como is an ideal place to go out at night time; you can start early with an aperitivo, move on to a restaurant, then nightclub. It is the perfect location to stay, although may be a little expensive!

St.Ambrogio is the city’s patron saint, and the Basilica of St.Ambrogio in the heart of the city, is one of the oldest churches in Milan. Every year from the 7th to 9th December it’s the patron saint’s day, and there is a lot of celebrating and events to be found throughout the city. There are many various stalls, including food stalls, music etc in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio and the surrounding area. It is the city’s most traditional festival, and a nice way to get you in the festivities spirit, at the start of the Christmas period!