To what extent is fashion in London a means of individual expression? The question can be answered in many ways and from several different perspectives. London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom; it is also the largest city in Europe. London is also considered by many to be the financial capital of the world. The central core of London dates back to Roman times and is referred to as The City of London.
Given the diverse range of cultures, languages and immigrants from other lands who live there it is no wonder that fashion is not only a statement but integral way of life for some of the city’s inhabitants. . The city is divided into several districts including Westminster, Mayfair and Piccadilly, Fleet Street, Soho and Bloomsbury Boasting over 300 different languages and between twelve and fourteen million inhabitants London along with Paris, Rome and New York make it a world fashion capital.
The area around Mayfair is home to Seville Row,famous for its traditional men'sbespoketailoringtailoring. The word bespoke originated when a cloth suit was spoken for by customers. “Princess Anne, later Queen Anne, became Mayfair’s first royal resident which made the area even more fashionable. Mayfair’s golden days were between the two world wars when the clique known as the "Bright Young Things" which included people such as Noel Coward and Evelyn Waugh led the very rich and fashionable on their never-ending rounds of dances, theatres, cocktail parties and debutantes balls” (spendtimeinlondon, 2012).
The Bloomsbury area consists of intellectuals and artists and their own peculiar fashion statements, it is also home to the British Museum. “The British Museum in London is one of the world's largest and most important museums of human history and culture. It was established in 1753 and was based largely on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane” (spendtimeinlondon, 2012). Within a city such as London the diversity never stops and is often nontraditional, “In a city as smartly dressed as London, even the tube can sometimes look like a fashion show” (London net, 2012).
England is a land of contrasts and society and sporting events often become intermixed affaires. A good example of this occurs at the horse races. The Royal Ascot is a prime example, “Usually gleaning more news coverage than each winning racehorse and jockey are the well-dressed duchesses on Ladies’ Day, wearing hats shaped like teapots or exploding flower bombs—proving that tradition and eccentricity can go hand-in-hand, and reminding us that wacky headwear isn’t the exclusive domain of Lady Gaga” (passportmagazine, 2012).
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There are differences however between Britain and America, as the old saying goes, two cultures divided by a common language. The English spoken by British and Americans may be the same but yet different and so are their fashion statements. “You need only observe the audiences during London and New York Fashion Weeks: the British are generally notable for what is sometimes known as 'edgy' or 'directional' outfits, which can be code for plain messy, while the New Yorkers follow the lead of Anna Wintour, the perfectly groomed editor of American Vogue, who has a blow-dry at dawn every morning” (Fashion Telegraph, 2012).
When London fashion writers speak of their American counterparts they often do so in ways that are often derogatory but cloaked in such a way as to not offend. The English have a certain code in the way they dress and it often comes out as rather messy in its look. Compare that to a New Yorker, specifically women and their polished appearance. That demeanor is not found in England.
The various styles worn by women in England and across the channel in France are much the same as the ones worn by women in America or Canada. There are of course differences and sometimes they can go to the extreme. At lot of today’s fashion statements reflect the social mores in society. Often the changes happen very quickly and unexpectedly. “Last year it was a dress made from 3,000 cow and yak nipples - this year it's anyone's guess what will cause a storm at London Fashion Week (LFW). High fashion often seems to translate into some rather strange looks: shower cap shoes, Pac-Man helmets and table skirts to name just a few” (BBC, 2012).
It all comes back to London and its eclectic mix that has contributed to fashion statement for many years. From High Street fashion and its mass produced fashion products and advertising to following fashion icons, London has it all. Seville Row and its spoken for tailoring all exist together. The melting pot that is London gives birth to quirky new fashion statements. They take their roots from inspiration derived from the multicultural diversity that the city provides.
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Fashion is our second skin and follows more than trends; it’s all about ones emotional state and psychology and for some borders on a religion. Most people care about how they look and for them fashion is the outlet through which they express themselves. This is why London with its diverse mix of cultures, languages and its prominence in global affairs makes it one of the worlds fashion capitals and a place to see and be seen.
The question of whither fashion is a means of individual expression in London is a resounding yes; it is a means of expression and a very individualistic statement. Many times the expression is so individual that it’s hard to pin down. All of the varied cultures that have come to call London home have contributed to the cities diversity in one way or another. Fashion in its own right is one of the things that makes London the cosmopolitan city that it is. After all is said and done London will always be a fashion capital along with the other great cities of the world and its people will continue to influence fashion in their own way as a means of expression.
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