Sunday, 13 June 2010

Adieu Maria Luisa

In this weeks Editorial Letter Drapers Editor Jessica Brown reports on the immanent closure of Maria Luisa, the fabled independent boutique in Paris. In the same issue of Drapers, the UK's principal weekly trade magazine for the fashion industry, John Ryan reviews Louis Vuitton's newly opened Maison flagship store on London's Bond Street. The reporting of these two stories sheds light on a dilemma faced by many 'Fashion Cities', both the leading centres like Paris or London, and also those with aspirations to become Fashion, or indeed, Shopping Cities. Independent boutiques like London's Browns, Koh Samui and Start Boutique are often the testing ground for new designers, and also add cachet to more established brands who wish to be perceived as 'edgy'. At the same time they act as beacons of diversity in the the retail landscape of cities swamped with identikit monobrand stores by the likes of H&M, Zara and Mango. At the same time cities also seek to attract big-name brands, or those with big ambitions, to open grand and exciting flagship stores, as the success of both Top Shop and All Saints have seen in their recent store openings in New York. As with the Louis Vuitton opening, such stores are a marker or 'stamp-of-approval' in cementing the reputations of both Fashion Cities and even famous Fashion Streets. According to Brown, Maria Luisa herself is set to work on new ventures, both online and with department store Au Printemps, yet after 22 years in business it is a shame to see such store, particularly in what is said to be the 'Fashion Capital of the World', close its doors. While others may take its place, the adventurous independent shop still often remains the first place up-coming designers get their first taste of fashion world, either through selling their work, or working as a sales assistant.

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