Twice a year – in February and September – editors, buyers and influencers from around the world jet-set between four fashion capitals: New York, London, Milan and Paris. The event? Fashion week, the most important event on the fashion calendar. It’s not all selfies and air kisses though; fashion week is where trends are made and designers show off their latest collections. Each city also has its own distinct aesthetic and identity, from edgy and modern to glamorous and over-the-top. Not sure which one will be your favourite? Read on for our handy guide to the big four:
1. NEW YORK
The first of the “big four” fashion weeks, and often also the longest. It’s also the oldest, having been established in 1943 – nevertheless, it’s hip and diverse. Expect classic American royalty like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren.
Personality traits: Slick, busy, well-groomed, sporty, commercial
What to wear: All-black, utilitarian
Standout shows: Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Christian Siriano, Helmut Lang, Jason Wu
Who sits front row: Anna Wintour, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman
New York fashion week in one word: Cool
London has always been the cool kid of the pack, the one with less conformity and formality. It’s also the most experimental fashion week, where up-and-coming designers rub shoulders with industry stalwarts.
Personality traits: Modern, loud, non-conformist, punk
What to wear: The latest under-the-radar label you picked up from a Central Saint Martins student or Dover Street Market
Standout shows: Molly Goddard, Burberry, Roksanda, Erdem, Christopher Kane, Vivienne Westwood
Who sits front-row: Lily James, Naomi Campbell, FKA Twigs
London fashion week in one word: Edgy
During fashion week, the Italian city wins the streetstyle jackpot. It’s also a week when craftsmanship is celebrated and is known for its sensual, sexy vibe.
Personality traits: Over-the-top, colourful, entertaining
What to wear: Colour, embellishments
Standout shows: Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Versace (the big brands take turns each year to open and close the week)
Who sits front row: Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Olivia Palermo
Milan fashion week in one word: Glamorous
The main one and the most important, although don’t say that to the others. Home to the most important fashion houses, Paris always pulls out all the stops and sets the most trends.
Personality traits: Aloof, artistic, elegant, creative, classy
What to wear: Pared-back tailoring, a red lip
Standout shows: Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Celine
Who sits front row: Kristen Stewart, Cara Delevinge, Pharrell Williams
Paris fashion week in one word: Sophisticated