Before I kick off my ninth trip to the fashion capital for Milan Fashion Week, I have to document my last moments in Paris. What would a tour though this romantic city be without a whirlwind shopping spree along the Champs Élysées – The city’s most exclusive street packed with designer labels from across the globe. We rode the subway to emerge at the Arc de Triomphe at the head of this wide, wonderful street and while it is mixed up with an array of eateries and other activities and brands unrelated to fashion like cars, culture and entertainment, it was a fascinating place that I am glad I experienced although it has not crept under my skin quite like Montenapoleone has. While it is by no means inferior to its Milanese competition, it certainly is different and it just depends on what your shopping habits and priorities are as well as your conducive shopping atmosphere and preferred environment.
While Via Montenapoleone and the Champs Élysées are both amongst the world’s top 5 shopping streets, there are stark differences between these stylish hotspots.
The Champs Élysées has traffic flowing in opposite directions with two lanes in both directions while Montenapoleone offers a single lane that splits traffic in one of two ways almost midway down. If you’re on a serious shopping mission with limited time then Montenapoleone is a breeze to navigate because you can easily peek at the tempting goodies in store windows from across the road and zig-zag between both sides of the road. The Champs Élysées on the other hand requires that you straighten out our walking pattern. The four lanes of cars that separate each side of the street can be a challenge to cross, so it’s best to explore the length of each side at your leisure.
Montenapoleone oozes a certain high-class attitude, both from the smartly-dressed shoppers that roam the narrow sidewalks as well as the ultra exclusive Italian crafts and apparel that’s produced to the highest sought-after quality standard. And what I really appreciate about Montenapoleone is that it is indeed the main fashion artery which pulsates its special aura into the intimate fashion square that continues around the area. It’s got a homely atmosphere with the buildings housing several big brand headquarters while friendly faces become familiar and comforting.
The Champs Élysées however seems a lot more accessible to the general public and it seems to be an almost over-crowded breeding ground for mischief-makers. Everything is bigger and busier but you must hold on to your bags because little girls with innocent faces begging for money may have long fingers and roving eyes scanning for unsuspecting targets. But this does not mean that you won’t have a blast scurrying through the ‘malls’ that are buried between buildings. Finding anything from designer heels to evening dresses and very affordable daily wear is no tough task with small stores like Amytis – a boutique run by a gentleman with a sugary tongue where Swarovski crystals are generously strewn onto stunning gowns which are designed and made in France while bags and shoes are created in Italy. Definitely worth a visit
These are just some of the pictures I captured along the Champs Élysées…