I haven’t seen daylight (and fashion) in weeks considering my hectic schedule at Le Cordon Bleu. I look like a white potato sack in my little uniform, so what’s the use of trying to accessorize? However the other night my husband and I were invited to dinner with a very interesting couple. Our hostess, Martina, having a background in haute couture fashion design, appealed to my long lost feminity and desire to be in style. Our host David, an international lawyer was our chef for the evening and before I talk about fashion conspiracy, I must first say that the dinner was amazing (Thanks!!!).

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Martina is a haute couture fashion designer who is currently taking some time off to be a mommy. We covered everything from why Paris is stuck in the ’80′s to the more important question: is Paris the center of fashion?

She looks like a couture fashion designer: tall and thin with a short hair cut that lets her periwinkle blue eyes really stand out. Her skinny jeans and string tank top were casually cutting edge accessorized perfectly with a nouveau-punk loose fitting belt, tall black boots, and a little fox fur wrap. Simple but cool and tres fashionable. During the evening she brought up several valid questions about fashion and the future of fashion in Paris…

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One of the most interesting facts I learned is that it is very hard for start-up couture designers to make a name for themselves amidst the huge fashion labels that dominate everystore and every street in Paris. These big fashion houses push the little fish out of business. She even started questioning the orginality of the big labels. One of her points that stuck with me the whole evening, was that most of the big fashion houses keep returning to previous eras for inspiration. Nothing is new. Hence the current 80′s trend. We debated over whether or not anything is truly new and whether fashion has just gone as far as it can so that past eras are emerging with a new twist. Nostalgia or longing for the past, like looking at your high school yearbook and remembering only the fun times (and not the bad). Or maybe retro style is reflective of a desire to go back in time when things were more…defined.

The night sped by and the conversation jumped from subject to subject, but one question I never got the chance to ask, was: where is the center of fashion if it’s not Paris? It’s can’t be America with our one-look-fits-all philosophy (although many USA labels are doing some creative stuff!). But I’ve been noticing that Turkey has some new styles that incorporate tradition with modernity and so does India, Shri Lanka, and Spain. Japan of course is a plethora of trends. These countries are trying to say something about their futures while respecting (or disrespecting) their pasts.

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So the question remains….What is Paris trying to say about France through fashion? Is it still the center or is it merely surviving through past revived glory?