Shopping tips for World Fasion Capitals, London Fashion Week’s kicked off, but whilst the fashionistas flit about New York, Milan, London and Paris, we just want to know where to splurge, where to save and where to stay. Fashion writer Harriet Walker tells the best way to shop the fashion capitals.
As with so much in New York, fashion here is an efficient and often ruthless process. Style is clean and sporty, with a glamorous, rock and roll edge – think luxurious minimalist pieces cut tight and short, this season with an ironic designer logo or two thrown in. The model-off-duty look was born in lower Manhattan, where street culture is about mixing grungy influences with something more classic to make for a pretty sort of mess. Never too messy, obviously.
Barneys is the absolute Mecca of Manhattan shopping. It’s vast and versatile, according to your tastes and your budgets. Stocking every major label, from Prada to Celine, it also boast one of the biggest selections of Rick Owens in the city – but be warned, those must-have softly washed leather jackets sell out at the very beginning of the season. It’s also great for end of season shoe sales – where prices on labels such as Balenciaga and Christian Louboutin often end up slashed in half.
660 Madison Avenue New York
Save: Century 21
Century 21, Manhattan’s largest designer outlet store, is only for serious shoppers. It’s a head-down-and-don’t-chat sort of place for those who know their labels and prefer to get them at 70% off. You’ll find American names for the most part – Helmut Lang, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors – but expect Margiela, Westwood and Gaultier too and expect to rummage for them. The surroundings aren’t fancy, but neither are your motives. Best attempted alone.
472 86th Street, Brooklyn
The fashion scene in London is as diverse and eclectic as the city’s 8 million inhabitants. No one scene can be said to have triumphed – from the Portobello princesses of the west, all Matthew Williamson and posh parkas, to the hipsters of the east and the south, and the goth urchins of Camden in the north. It makes for a vibrant shopping experience though, where the rules of engagement change according to which point of the compass you’re at.
A concept store in is truest sense, LN-CC (Late Night Chameleon Café) lies just behind the main drag of Dalston in London’s East End and you’ll need to make an appointment to get in. This isn’t a snooty test of your mettle though – it’s because the space, created by set designer Gary Card, is small and worth appreciating without too many others to distract you. LN-CC boasts an incredibly well curated selection of brands, from Haider Ackermann and Dries van Noten to JW Anderson, and a room full of so much obscure Japanese streetwear, its cool credentials are basically unrivalled in the Western world.
18 Shacklewell Lane
Just underneath the striking Trellick Tower in Ladbroke Grove lies the city’s finest vintage store. It’s about as far from a Salvation Army outlet as you can imagine, so the prices aren’t rock bottom, but you’d be hard pressed to find some of the pieces here, well, ever. Anywhere. Find 1982 Vivienne Westwood Pirates pieces, late 80s Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons, 90s Jil Sander – Rellik is where London’s designers come for inspiration.
8 Golborne Rd
An idiosyncratic mix of high fashion and hard business, Milan is a city where creativity and commerce collide. It also means however, that you have to search a little further from the beaten track to find this city’s best and most stylish haunts, whether you’re looking for the designer piece of a lifetime (all too many to choose from) or the biggest and best bargain you can tell all your friends about.
Splurge: Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II
If you needed persuading to shop in Milan’s largest Galleria (four storeys high, double width) try this: McDonalds was recently turfed out of it after 20 years of occupancy to make way for a second Prada store. Known as ‘Milan’s drawing room’, this is the ultimate destination for shopping across the spectrum, from Zara to haute jewellery – not forgetting the city’s finest pastry shop, Biffi Caffe.
Save: Marni Outlet
Off the beaten track but worth the detour, Milan’s Marni outlet store often cuts prices by up to 80%, and the observant fashion follower will clock pieces that are only a season old. It really is the pick of one of Italy’s most beautifully cool and crafted labels at the moment and while the prices might not be Topshop low, they’re still a heck of a lot less than you’ll see anywhere else.
1 Via Filippo Tajani
The home of fashion, despite young and hip pretenders to that throne, Paris straddles both high and low. Choose from the hushed ateliers of Dior and Chanel who ply their trade to private couture clients from thickly carpeted salons, or the bustle of the Marais. It’s packed to the rafters with vintage stores and French brands such as Sandro, Maje and The Kooples, which have successfully tapped into the collective conscious in the past few years.
Splurge: Serge Lutens
The scent shop to end all scent shops. Serge Lutens is an alchemist of fragrance, creating elevated and rarefied scents from the finest and most unusual ingredients and combinations that nevertheless become modern classics among the cosmetics cognoscenti. His boutique in Palais Royal is well worth a visit. Just don’t going spraying the testers about everywhere – it isn’t that kind of place.
142 Galerie de Valois
It might seem crazy, sending you to one of the city’s most exclusive fashion boutiques in the name of bargains, but hear me out. Beyond the fabulous and top-end labels available here, there are hundreds are more accessibly priced objets to be had too, of a standard that isn’t found just anywhere. So take advantage of Colette’s intrepid buying team, who bring you everything from the best Harajuku trinkets (a miniature Karl Lagerfeld doll perhaps) to a wide-ranging selection of fashion publications that you might never have come across before. Who said bargain hunting meant bargain basements?