Alexander Fury: Superstore’s stylish cities
We can all agree that our finalist Superstore boutiques are in some pretty stylish locations, but what is it that makes these places really stand out? We asked Alexander Fury, Superstore mentor and Editor of Love magazine to give us a fashion crash course on the seven places in our spotlight…
'The greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine' - that's Berlin. Or so stated David Bowie in 1976, and scores of others before him, ever since Berlin first became a capital of counterculture in the Twenties. Watch Cabaret, or read some Christopher Isherwood, and you get a sense of what Berlin is all about - even today, an alternative lifestyle, in the truest sense of the word, with alternative style to match. And despite our assumptions about the rigour of Teutonic style, much of which was fostered by the reed-slim monochrome uniform of Bowie's Thin White Duke-ing, there's a diversity to Germany's fashion output. It's the diversity of Jil Sander shoulder-to-shoulder with Bottega Veneta's Tomas Maier - clean, mean minimalism versus handicraft versus glorious, exuberant maximalism. That eccentric eclecticism is a neat summary of Berlin style. And I can't think of any other city where an 88-year old tailor could become a street-style phenomenon. Check out http://alioutfit.tumblr.com and you'll understand why…
Peter Jensen S/S 13
Denmark has a well-earned reputation for clean-cut, modern and practical design. And all that teak and glass mid-century Danish furniture has found its counterpart in a young(ish) generation of Danish fashion designers, who couple eminent wearable with creative flourishes. Peter Jensen is Danish fashion's granddaddy - he's been designing for over ten years, showing in Copenhagen, London and New York. His last men's collection was even inspired by Danish design supremo Arne Jacobsen. London-based menswear label Astrid Anderson couldn't seem more different, with panne velvet and lace tracksuits versus Jensen's cotton and wool. But her simple sportswear shapes owe a debt to a distinctly Danish idea of practicality. The label everyone wears in Copenhagen is a fusion of the two: preppy sportswear brand WoodWood, who have collaborated with the likes of Nike and Fred Perry.
In a season of the great grunge revival - courtesy of Hedi Slimane at the storied house of Saint Laurent - the rather esoteric fashion destination of Portland Oregon has a special relevance. Rather than a fashion hub, it's a music mecca, especially for Nirvana fans. It is, after all, the city where Kurt met Courtney - and where Courtney spent most of her formative years. The style that Love made her signature, mixing oversized menswear sweaters, flannel shirts and hefty boots with flimsy floral chiffon dresses, is still evident on the streets, albeit in a twenty-first century incarnation courtesy of Dries Van Noten, Philip Lim and, indeed Saint Laurent (for well-heeled Hole-ites). And come next season, if there's a place to wear Monsieur Slimane's luxury Lumberjack tartans, leather minis and diamante-flecked fishnets with true authenticity, it's here.
Traditional Cypriot Dress
Cyprus is a country of upheaval: recent economic woes, tension between the Greek and Turkish factions, and the fact that Cyprus is still a country divided - with a military guarded border. But that tension has inspired some of the finest fashion of the past twenty years: Hussein Chalayan is Cyprus' great fashion export, a designer determined to create something more than a pretty little black dress. Chalayan draws on Cyprus' history rather than his own - he left the island when he was 8, but remains fascinated by the culture. Hence, when he used Fifties 'Hawaiian' prints in 2004, they actually depicted a bloody battle in contemporary Nicosia, but with historically-costume Ottoman and Venetian soldiers. 'The idea is that it's a contemporary situation with conflict from the past,' said Chalayan. Fragments of those Greek and Turkish costumes - elaborate pleating, say, or intricate embroidery - have also found their way into Chalayan's clothes. They're costumes that, even today, can be seen in their original form in the hills of Cyprus, like a window into the past.
Mary Katrantzou S/S 13
There's far too much to say about London fashion to cram it into a paragraph. Try a book. In fact, try a dozen. London is a veritable fashion dynamo - turn your back, and six up-and-coming designers will have emerged from the woodwork. Today, young London designers are building their labels into world-renowned brands - Christopher Kane, Erdem, Jonathan Saunders and Mary Katrantzou are just four that resonate on a global scale, never mind the established likes of Vivienne Westwood, still infuriating, innovating and cage-rattling in her fourth decade of design. The hallmarks of London fashion? Two hundred years of tailoring tradition distilled into superbly cut cloth, and the creative exuberance from one of the best fashion education systems in the world. Oh, and coats. Lots of coats. It's always cold in London.
Anthony Vaccarello S/S 13
Why argue with the statement that Paris is the capital of fashion? When Dior launched his New Look in 1947, he was declared to have 'saved France.' Come fashion week, even the taxi drivers have an erudite sartorial opinion. Fashion is a French national treasure. But in the minds of many the phrase 'Paris Fashion' conjures the staid, fuddy-duddy world of haute couture, filled with willowy men faffing about with astronomically-priced tulle. Even for the more educated - those not taking their fashion references from Funny Face and Absolutely Fabulous - Paris fashion is the establishment, and it's been established for decades. But there's been a new infusion of youthful talent to Paris, with the terribly French likes of Anthony Vaccarello and Maxime Simoens setting up their own labels to international acclaim, while designers like Balmain's Olivier Rousteing - aged just 27 - are freshly-installed to breathe new life into the city's style.
Classic fabrics by Zika Ascher
Of course Prague has a fashion week. Doesn't just about every major (or minor) city these days? But few can lay the claim to having truly reinvented fashion - Prague was the birthplace of Zika Ascher, a name that resonates only amongst fashion insiders. He's the man who invented mohair as an haute couture fabric, supplying Christian Dior and Balenciaga. Sounds like a minor thing, but Ascher helped to revolutionise the world of fashion, introducing not only those couture mohair fabrics but the first paper fabric, used for the iconic disposable dresses of the late Sixties. That all took place in Paris, while Prague was under Communist rule -today, Prague is better known for street style than haute couture.
Manish Arora S/S 13
One of Diana Vreeland's most famous epigrams was the declaration ‘pink is the navy-blue of India’. That serves to emphasise the 'otherness' that so attracted Europeans to India, especially after World War II. It wasn't just The Beatle's visits to Yogis and the Taj Mahal: fashion became enamoured with the easy drapes of the sari and the grandeur of a brocaded turban. Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent both offered their own versions. Today, however, that export seems to be in reverse: India is the next great promised land for designer luxury goods (others have used the phrase 'The New China' – we won’t). And rather than designers filching ideas from the fertile history of the subcontinent's national costume, it's European labels exporting their finest wares to a new market - while Indian's star designer Manish Arora uses Indian embroideries, textiles and inspirations to create exuberant Paris-based ready-to-wear.