As fashion months roll around again, there’s no better excuse for a spot of retail therapy. But beyond the big name brands there’s a distinct shopping experience to be had in each style-conscious city; from leather boutiques in Milan to vintage treasure troves in London.

Whether you’re a style queen or a fashion novice, fear not, here’s our ultimate guide on where to shop during Fashion Week.

LONDON… For vintage

Shopping in the worlds most stylish cities

With a fashion week schedule rich in names-to-watch, London is the rebel of the fashion week circuit. The city’s maverick spirit is matched by its luxury shopping opportunities; new flagships seem to be opening on a weekly basis in Mayfair (Christopher Kane, Victoria Beckham and Alexander Wang have all recently set up shop). That said, it’s the eclectic London-girl style that’s really worth getting excited about; a masterclass in mixing those high-end names with high-street finds and, naturally, a bit of vintage.

London’s got great bargains covered… Plus, if you know where to look, there are designer gems to be found

What makes London’s vintage shopping particularly noteworthy is the variety of offerings. For the couture-aficionado, Marylebone’s William Vintage is an essential pit stop. Owner William Banks-Blaney’s exquisite selection is the stuff that fashion dreams are made of; think Madame Grès couture gowns, New Look-era Dior coats or 1960s Courrèges dresses. Also from the haute end of the pre-loved scale is Notting Hill’s Rellik, where regulars forage in the incredible selection of Yohji Yamamoto, Alaia and Jean Paul Gaultier (the store caused something of a stampede when Kate Moss stepped out in a pair of Rellik-sourced Vivienne Westwood Pirate Boots in 1999). If you’re hunting for an Hermès bag, Browns has an immaculate selection of vintage Birkins and Kellys.

London’s got great bargains covered too. Get set to rummage through the characterful, colourful rails of Beyond Retro, Absolute Vintage and Rokit for everything from perfectly worn-in leather jackets to hippyish summer dresses. Plus, if you know where to look, there are designer gems to be found in some of the city’s charity shops (the British Red Cross in Chelsea has been known to receive the cast-offs of a certain Mrs Beckham).

What else?

Where to stay: The offbeat, bohemian splendour of Farringdon’s Zetter Townhouse has found a new home in a converted 24-bedroom Georgian townhouse on Mayfair’s Seymour Street. Don’t miss the famous cocktails.

For brunch: New spots open weekly, but you still can’t beat The Wolseley for all-round elegance and the best eggs Benedict in town.

After-dark stop: Night in, night out, Andre Balazs’ Chiltern Firehouse welcomes a famous, fabulous and fashionable crowd through its doors.

Don’t miss: Two must-see fashion exhibitions open this fall, following hot on the heels of the blockbuster Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition. From September 21, Louis Vuitton brings an Instagram-friendly glimpse behind the scenes of the autumn/winter 2015 show to Somerset House. Stick around until October to catch the Mademoiselle Privé exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, taking you on a journey through the history of Chanel.

Insider pick: “I’ve just discovered The Palomar. It serves the most delicious Middle-Eastern food, has a great atmosphere and a fun bar area, perfect for pre-dinner drinks,” Mary Katrantzou, designer.


NEW YORK… For new designers

Shopping in the worlds most stylish cities

With names like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Marc Jacobs on the New York Fashion Week schedule, there’s no denying the Big Apple’s huge commercial clout. But step away from the Fifth Avenue flagships and you’ll discover a number of must-visit independent boutiques boasting a roster of exciting, emerging talent.

You won’t come away empty handed, and you will want to move in

You still can’t beat the New York outpost of Dover Street Market for its innovative selection of new names – of note this season are Molly Goddard’s frothy prom dresses and Faustine Steinmetz’s distressed and frayed denim. On the Upper East Side, another concept store, FiveStory, houses an eclectic mix of designers across fashion, accessories, shoes and jewellery, including Olympia Le Tan, Giamba and Sabine G. Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s eponymous Lower East Side boutique meanwhile offers an impeccably curated edit of indie labels that Philo-philes will melt for, like LA designer Catherine Quin’s minimal, grown-up pieces.

Discover difficult-to-find designers at Assembly, also on the Lower East Side, like Sandy Liang, whose colourful furs and painted leathers have the downtown fashion pack in a frenzy. An offline venture from Vanessa Traina and Morgan Wendelborn, the style arbiter founders of e-boutique The Line, Soho’s The Apartment is an airy loft-meets-showroom-meets-store. The impossibly stylish edit of art, interiors, beauty and fashion is housed in an intimate apartment setting that is a refreshing alternative to a department store. Expect to find Frtiz Hansen chairs alongside Le Labo candles, glossy Assouline tomes and clothes from the likes of Protagonist and Pallas. You won’t come away empty handed, and you will want to move in.

What else?

Where to stay: Housed in Madison Square Park’s historic clock tower, the New York outpost of The Edition – which opened during Frieze this May – is a happening spot promising contemporary luxury, awesome views and a stylish crowd.   

For brunch: Put the fashion week diet on hold and head over to Jack’s Wife Freda for rosewater waffles or a Madame Freda – a pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, cheddar béchamel, gruyere and a fried egg. Resistance is futile.

After-dark stop: Described by The New York Times as “Chinatown’s unlikely new ‘it’ bar” Mr Fong’s is packed with a fashion crowed nightly, from 10pm to 4am.

Don’t miss: With 50,000 square feet of galleries to explore, the Whitney Museum of American Art, was recently relocated to a Renzo Piano designed space in the Meatpacking District.

Insider pick: “I love going to the Standard East Village with friends for dinner and drinks. It has a fantastic ‘downtown’ atmosphere and the food is delicious,” Jonathan Simkhai, designer.


MILAN… For leather


What Switzerland is to watches, and Scotland is to whisky, Italy is to leather. A ‘Made in Italy’ stamp tells you instantly that your leather bag, shoes or jacket is the absolute pinnacle of quality and craftsmanship. Its superior reputation is in part earned through the industry’s artisanal expertise, with much leather production involving several handcrafted stages.

No trip to Milan is complete without a visit to the legendary 10 Corso Como, the world’s first concept store

Naturally the powerhouse Italian brands all use Italian leather. In Milan, you’re in the spiritual home of the nation’s fashion industry, the perfect excuse, should you need it, to pick up a Prada wallet perhaps, a pair of Tod’s loafers or a butter soft Armani leather jacket. The big names, however, aren’t the only go-to for leather goods. Sara Battaglia, for example, whose quirky clutches and fringed bags you’ll spy popping up all over fashion week (her sister is super-stylist and street-style star Giovanna Battaglia); snap up one of the exuberantly feminine designs from the city’s Antonia boutique. Designer Davide Gatto – who honed his skills and creative vision at some of the world’s leading fashion houses – branched out on his own in 2012 to launch his own brand of bags and accessories. Entirely Milan-designed and Italian-made, expect to find handcrafted leather goods (we love the pared-back travel bags) in his Canal-district boutique, alongside silk scarves, antique prints and more. For something extra special, there’s also a bespoke service available by request.

If you happen to be in an altruistic mood, then treat a sartorially astute gentleman to a pair of bespoke, handcrafted shoes from Artisinal, a small boutique and atelier in the Duomo district.

Side note: No trip to Milan is complete without a visit to the legendary 10 Corso Como, the world’s first concept store. Now 25 years old, the space is home to myriad designers and products – from Maison Martin Margiela’s take on Russian dolls to architectural Alaia dresses. And did you know there’s also a well-kept secret in the 10 Corso Como discount outlet hiding nearby on Via Tazzoli? Be still, beating heart.


What else?

Where to stay: Inside a renovated 18th century palazzo you’ll find the ultra-luxe Bulgari hotel. The spa is a restorative refuge for weary travellers, while the leafy gardens provide a lush backdrop for an evening cocktail.

For brunch: We say skip brunch and save yourself for lunch. Le Specialità, on Via Pietro Calvi, is regarded as home to some of the best pizzas in the city. There’s also a gluten free menu.

After-dark stop: It seems every Milanese designer has their own bar, café, or restaurant. D Squared’s rooftop restaurant-slash-nightclub has two pools and some of the best views over the city. For a quieter decadence, Bar Principe exudes a relaxed, old school glamour.

Don’t miss: The Fondazione Prada, the new permanent venue for the Italian house’s contemporary arts and culture institution. Housed in a converted distillery, the complex’s bar, Bar Luce, is designed by an artist with an aesthetic as distinctive as Prada’s, Wes Anderson, and was inspired by mid-century Milanese cafes.

Insider tip: “L’oro Dei Farlocchi is an unusual shop that’s full of curiosities, where I like looking for unique, original and sometimes kitsch objects. I also love to wander around open air markets, like the Mercato del Naviglio, to find unique pieces,” Marco de Vincenzo, designer


PARIS…For jewellery

Shopping in the worlds most stylish cities

If one was to list the world’s most glamorous shopping addresses then Paris’s Place Vendôme would undoubtedly be somewhere at the top. Home to the world’s most storied fine jewellery brands – Boucheron, Cartier, Chaumet, Bulgari, Repossi, the list goes on – the 17th century square is a place where all that glitters most definitely is gold (and platinum, diamonds, emeralds, sapphire… You get the picture). Well, what more would you expect from the home of haute couture?

If you’re willing to rummage, Paris hosts a number of flea markets such as the famous Marché Aux Puces de Saint Oue

The City of Light’s sparkling offerings extend far beyond the rarefied environs of the Place Vendome, however. At legendary concept store Colette, discover contemporary jewellery brands that are as modern as they are magnificent. Causing a stir at the moment is Nicolas Ghesquiere protégée and ex-Balenciaga jewellery designer Charlotte Chesnais with her striking, sculptural collection of interlocking hoop earrings and twisted bangles.

The Left Bank is a hot bed of independent jewellery boutiques. Check out Galerie Argiles for tribal-inspired pieces, concept store Baby Buddha for emerging names and Marie Pontiatowski’s boutique Stone, which stocks her delicate, timeless designs.

For something truly unique, however, go vintage. If you’re willing to rummage, Paris hosts a number of flea markets such as the famous Marché Aux Puces de Saint Ouen (Marché Serpette is a must-visit for high-end treasures). More centrally, the Louvre des Antiquaires (just opposite the Louvre gallery) is a multi-dealer complex, housing over 250 antique shops – including jewellery specialists. It’s already an essential stop for professional dealers, but the professional window shopper will be equally as delighted by the dazzling array of pieces on offer.

What else?

Where to stay: Le Bristol is the couture gown of Paris hotels; luxurious and so timelessly stylish it never goes out of fashion. Don’t forget to say “bonjour” to the resident Burmese cats, Fa-Raon and Kléopatre.

For brunch: Even in a city filled with sublime boulangeries and brasseries, sometimes only pancakes drenched in syrup will do – which is why Breakfast in America has lines out the door, all year round.

After-dark stop: The intimate, old-world elegance of the Place de la Madeleine’s Caviar Kaspia attracts a who’s-who of the glitterati when they’re in town – from Beyoncé to Carine Roitfeld. If you’re still in the mood to party after that, head to the Montana, where the fashion crowd packs out the dance floor.

Don’t miss: When the Fondation Louis Vuitton opened its doors early to host the maison’s spring/summer 2015 show, snap-happy editors flooded Instagram with photos of the Frank Gehry designed masterpiece. See what all the fuss is about with a trip to the cultural centre and gallery in the Jardin d’Acclimatation.

Insider tip: “My favourite place in Paris is a restaurant called Au Passage in the 11th Arrondissement. A friend took me there the first week I moved to Paris, and I knew it would be a somewhere I’d come back to.  The menu changes everyday, all made in house, from the butter to the butchering. And there’s a very good wine list,” Zoe Lee, footwear designer.



Images: @CarrieC @ruelulu  @stefanel_spb @strider83 @londonstreetstyle