europe's next big fashion capital is...manchester?

Plus a Women’s World Cup collection, Chloe Sevigny and Chopova Lowena's ice cool fairytale and more feel-good fashion news

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Plus a Women’s World Cup collection, Chloe Sevigny and Chopova Lowena's ice cool fairytale and more feel-good fashion news

By Sophie Lou Wilson20 Jul 2023
6 mins read time
6 mins read time

When you think of Manchester what comes to mind? Rain? Football? Coronation Street? You probably don’t associate it with Paris haute couture, but yesterday, Chanel announced that its December Metiers D’Arts show will take place in the northern city. Below, we dive into the city’s fashion cred and why the location could be a burgeoning fashion capital. In other fashion news, Chopova Lowena have released a fairytale fashion book starring OG cool girl Chloë Sevigny, Robyn Lynch curates an exhibition in ode to Ireland, Art of Football release a collection in celebrating the Lionesses for the Women’s World Cup and Grace Wales Bonner heads across the pond to curate an exhibition at the MoMA. Here’s all the feel good fashion news from this week you might have missed.

chanel declares manchester the new paris

The UK’s second largest city has a textured cultural history – quite literally: in the 19th century it was nicknamed Cottonopolis for the number of cotton mills that operated there. But today, it’s perhaps more associated with Love Island influencers like Molly Mae and fast fashion behemoths Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing whose main offices operate out of the city.

Of course, like any big city, Manchester’s fashion isn’t monolithic. It’s a melting pot of subculture and style, pulling from a vibrant cultural history of acid house, indie and Britpop. In the ‘90s, when the likes of Shaun Ryder and the Gallagher brothers were repeatedly photographed in casual trackies, laidback sportswear became the epitome of northern cool. They helped popularise streetwear as a fashion flex, a sensibility that still lives on in the hearts of every uni student who spends their weekends in the halls of vintage emporium Afflecks on the hunt for vintage Fila jackets to wear to the club.

It’s no surprise then that designers feel drawn to the city. Chanel isn’t the only fashion brand to target the northern hub in recent seasons. Last November, Haider Ackermann and Fila took over the Depot Mayfield, home to The Warehouse Project’s club nights. The location made sense for a collection replete with sportswear staples like brightly coloured tracksuits, neon bombers and sleek rain jackets. “In Manchester, there’s a colliding of all those mixtures,” Ackermann said. “There’s the music industry, which is just beyond, but then you have the sports world and football, and it’s a UNESCO city of literature, too? I thought it would be very interesting to embrace the youth here. To get the energy, to get the speed, to absorb everything I could possibly absorb.”

Perhaps Manchester can offer Chanel a dose of youthfulness and edge that many feel the brand is missing these days. Will Virginia Viard reference the baggy jeans, bucket hats and cagoules of the Madchester music scene? It’s doubtful, but it will be interesting to see whether the city’s influence seeps in in other ways. The subtle, studied gothic aesthetics of its Victorian architecture and bands like Joy Division perhaps. Or maybe a reference to the city’s history as a former textile hub.

In the UK, if you want to work in fashion, most people will tell you that you have to move to London, but it’s about time creative industries were decentralised. There should be fashion opportunities in the north beyond Boohoo. Haider Ackermann proved it can be a thrilling location for a fashion show, but perhaps Chanel can truly put Manchester on the fashion map. Paris is great, but it’s never produced a banger like New Order’s "Blue Monday", has it?

chopova lowena’s new book is a cool girl fairytale

What do you get when you mix a young London it-brand with a ‘90s New York it-girl? In their dreamlike new book, Conversations with Angels, Chopova Lowena collabed with Chloe Sevigny to create the stuff of fashion fairytales. The OG cool girl is outfitted in the label’s iconic carabiner pleated skirts and high energy graphic prints in a retelling of the classic Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen. Shot by photographer Charlotte Wales, the book is in collaboration with artist and writer, Precious Okoyomon, whose fantastical prose bring the pages to life. If you’re looking from some escapism, then look no further for your dose of feel good fairycore magic. Whether you want to fantasise about running away to live in the woods or smoking a blunt in a field of roses, this book is veritable fuel for your wildest daydreams. It’s available to buy here for £30. The chicest update your bookshelves will have all year.

robyn lynch’s now gallery exhibition is an ode to ireland

London-based Dublin-born designer Robyn Lynch’s AW23 show was a loving ode to Ireland, complete with a live harpist and a luscious green on green colour pallette. Now the menswear designer is drawing inspiration from her homeland once more with an exhibition at London’s NOW Gallery, opening 6 December, that explores “what it is to be Irish.” She follows in the footsteps of Matty Bovan, Molly Goddard, Mowalola and Nicholas Daley who have all put on exhibitions in the space. The Woolmark Prize finalist will turn her gaze away from garments, instead trying her hand at a series of playful inflatable sculptures that will fill the gallery, creating an immersive, nostalgic experience while celebrating her Irish heritage. The exhibition will run at Greenwich’s NOW Gallery from 6 December 2023 to 25 February 2024.

grace wales bonner's moma exhibit will explore art influenced by the african diaspora

It’s been a big week for fashion and art collabs. London-based menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner is set to curate an exhibition at the MoMA in New York. The BFC/GQ Fashion Fund recipient is the 16th artist to take part in the museum’s ‘Artist’s Choice Initiative.’ Entitled Spirit Movers, the exhibition will explore how the African diaspora has inspired different artist practices, experiences, forms and sounds. MoMa will be publishing a book to accompany the exhibition entitled Grace Wales Bonner: Dream In The Rhythm – Visions of Sound and Spirit. In it, Wales Bonner will draw upon pictures, poems, music, performances and scores from the museum’s vast archives. The exhibition will run at New York’s MoMA from 18 November 2023 to 7 April 2023. That's plenty of time to book your plane tickets!

art of football celebrates the lionesses with an athletic capsule collection

The Women’s World Cup has officially kicked off. In recent years, women’s football has finally started to get the recognition it’s due. This year, Art of Football, a Nottingham-based clothing brand and collective championing women on the field, have created a capsule collection of stylish football jerseys, bombers and track pants to keep you looking slick both on and off the pitch. Graphics throughout reference the Lionesses – manager Sarina Wiegman’s surname is embroidered in a heart on blue tracksuit bottoms while 24-year-old player Alessia Russo's skilled manoeuvring is depicted on a white tee. Shop the collection here.