Has the Paris, Milan and Even the Tokyo Fashion Scenes Lost their Allure?

Paris at Night © DR

I have been a photographer for more time than I wish to say and have worked in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Milan, London and Paris. I have experienced the business of fashion in each of these centers and have witnessed their growth, recession, regrowth, recession, etc. I have also been privy to the migrational movement of the major advertising campaigns from major centers like Milan to New York, Paris to London and New York with the slow deterioration of what was once a booming industry in those centers.

Milan the Duomo

These migrational changes that have had an adverse affect on those once vibrant Milanese and Parisian markets is depressing at least and dramatic most certainly. It is my impression that the loss of these markets and their ancillary support systems have had a very grave economic consequence that must be addressed and soon.

London at Night © DR

Most of the major French and Italian Advertising Campaigns are now shot in New York and on occasion in London. I say most, as there are some campaigns that are shot in their native markets, but this is rare. The campaigns that are shot in Paris and Milan are of lesser consequence or when the ambiance of those places are part of the creative concept and even when that is the case, most of the imagery is shot in New York and landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe are added in post-production. This fact is just one example of how the fashion industry and landscape has changed in Paris. Budgets are being slashed to the extreme and in order to keep the top models in the major centers, it will take a much greater initiative than what is on offer presently. In most cases there is no reason for the models from the Top 50 models.com listings to live in Paris or Milan, as the work load is not nearly as important as that of New York. Another important consideration, is that the taxes for models in France and Italy are astronomical, thus another reason they avoid Paris and Milan like the plague. The governments need to reassess the taxation codes for models working in their respective countries, regardless of their origin.

Statue of Liberty New York

Many fashion photographers based in Milan and Paris have started to migrate to London, New York and even Berlin and Hong Kong in search of more vibrant markets. The reality is rather stark at this time and until the French and Italian markets start to take care of those residing in their territory the scene will dramatically change for the worse. Everyone from Model agencies to Press agencies to studios to magazines should do their best to promote the territories that they are responsible for. International shoots are a norm of course, especially during the collections and are an important part of the landscape. But ad campaigns of products produced in host countries should consider producing them there when ever possible.

Tokyo Japan

I know that this short essay sounds rather naive and the solutions idyllic, but to see vibrant creative centers like Milan and Paris losing their esteem as major players, is of great concern to me. It has been a long time since a French Designer has headed up a major French Couture House and that in it’s own right is very telling. Of course their are exceptions to the rule, but I can count those on one hand.

I could go on ad infinitum, but would prefer to get your feedback regarding this subject. Perhaps sharing with us your own perceptions of your own markets.

About Benjamin Kanarek
Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…
  • A photographer friend of mine who will remain anonymous wrote me an e-mail commented the following:

    Benjamin Kanarek

    “I have lived in and out of NYC for 40+ years. It has no allure for me, no beauty, no culture to speak of except being the center of big money and capitalism. The locations bore me to death and frankly so do all the people running around desperately trying to promote their brand. Its all about promoting your brand. Such a bullshit way to live. Most people all they think about is making more and more money to pay their huge rents, giant utility bills, restaurant bills etc. etc. Sure a few get lucky and are able to have enough money to GET OUT on a regular basis to shoot, travel and learn. IMO there is no real creativity left but for a few who can afford it. NYC is just a giant commercial enterprise. No thanks.”

    Perhaps if he wishes to add his name later on, I will amend the comment.

  • Dietmarkohl

    I have to say it is a Shame that French and Italians in fact the whole wide world think its so much better in New york..or wherever they go – and dont work with teams in their own countries.How can anybody get Experience when everybody gives the work to outsiders..and it becomes all the same kind of Style it all looks alike sounds alike tastes alike haha.. which is not very individual either.Competitive Thinking kills it all and People should start to think about how to  change the ways they are doing Business – or it all goes down the Drain – all in the name for a Quick Buck and Profit.Fashion – what was it Yesterday what is it all about Today and what will it be about especially Tomorrow. Flair Elegance Creativity dont have a big Chance anyway when it comes to dress Planet Earth’s
    7 Billion Occupants..I am just sitting here in Sherman Oaks and dont have to much Contact with the Fashionworld anyway but i can understand what you are talking about Benjamin.Everything is in a ShiftingProcess these Days !

    All the Best !


  • Javier Galue

    I’m agree but not just for that… also due to new centers of fashion growing as Australia, Cape Town, Germany, Madrid and Barcelona, etc…  

  • Chaufa222


    As much as I do enjoy your blogs, insights, links and worldwide interaction, I have to totally disagree with you in this concept.  The world is being bound together, and although haute couture still is in Paris, the Sun King has totally phased out and there are new emerging factors that will dictate the fiture of fashion, photography and multimedia interaction. The hyvred marriage of digital analog printing systems, do make us think, that it was not all for nothing and there is no linear progression and you fo have to see output as a result of many factors, not deteriotation of a shift, but we should try to best help improve the new standards so they don’t loose that quality.  I live in Asia, in Thailand which I reallly like.  Now I am mixing digital with a hybrid digita;/analog wet darkroom, and this is hard to beat.  Sometimes we have to step back, to go forward, and the principles of photography are unchangeable.  I look forward to hearing more on the subject….V A Perez

  • Tokyo Fashion

    Interesting read, but no mention of Tokyo in the article, just the title?

  • Steve Hlavac

    Interesting observations, Ben. Thanks for your perspective…

  • Hermel Rotled

    Tell me about it…
    That has been my complaint lately.There is no charm anymore… No mesmerizing shows… It’s like a rush to show all in 5 seconds or less, and the more annoying is, not even a thankful designer taking the time to bow to and salute their invited guests.The passion that we all look forward to, and the reason we wanted to be designers, for that brief moment of appreciating the good & bad criticisims and treasuring this moment in time, is all gone.The thrill seems to be long gone…Bring me back the glorious days of glamour and fantasy.