It’s the David and Goliath of fashion battles: Aimée Grant Cumberbatch sees how Manchester fashion measures up to Paris style
In the blue corner we’ve got a haute couture heavyweight, the subject of a million Pinterest boards, the inspiration behind countless blogs: the veritable style mecca that is the city of love, lights and chic. While over in the red we have a place that these days is better known for football than fashion, however once called Cottonopolis, Manchester has a secret sartorial heritage and its unique student style keeps it firmly on the fashion map.
Everybody’s got that one friend, after a long day in the library she’s the picture of dishevelled chic, while you look like the gremlin of Green 2, she somehow manages to stretch her student budget to afford all the coolest clothes and when you ask her where they’re from you can bet the answer won’t be Topshop. You know the one I mean and you hate her a little bit, don’t you? Well that girl is every single girl in Paris. After nine months here I must admit there’s no shortage of style, or for that matter immaculately-dressed individuals to envy. Parisiennes are all about the cut, the expensive essentials and several pairs of perfect jeans. Less is most definitely more and everybody except you got the memo.
Whereas with a rebellious streak and a penchant for all things grungy, the Manchester girl is more like your edgy older sister. Queen of the vintage kilo sale and a charity shop connoisseur, her wardrobe is a mishmash of the latest trends and things your parents really really hate. You’re just counting down the days until you’re old enough to get your nose pierced too.
But which is best? Well, I’m afraid it’s that old fashion vs style conundrum rearing its ugly head again. But any serious sartorialist knows there is a big difference between the two. Style’s great and all, don’t get me wrong, but it’s fashion that keeps us talking season to season, that keeps us clicking through the latest shows and hoping we’ll find a good rip off in Zara. It’s like Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss. Both icons in their own right but VB’s got that pristine perfection thing going on, while Kate Moss is all distressed denim and couldn’t-care-less. And it’s the same with Paris and Manchester. Though I’ll always appreciate the exquisite and unaffordable nature of Paris style, I’ve missed Manchester’s element of surprise, the constant fashion flux and even some of the city’s quirkier trends (not the condom hat though, you can definitely keep that). So, though something of an underdog in the style stakes, Manchester’s certainly got its fair share of je ne sais quoi.