Sacré bleu! New York has been named fashion capital of the world, relegating Paris to second place. As the French city gears up for its own fashion week, we turn our backs on expert opinion and pit the two magnificent metropolises against each other -- in these witty and whimsical pictures from graphic designer Vahram Muratyan.
So let us roll up our sleeves -- and turn up our cuffs -- for an entirely arbitrary contest of cultures across the Atlantic. Who will come out on top? First up, THE LOOK, and it's the Parisienne vs Mad Men. Both are pretty fresh, but Coco Chanel's little black dress comes up trumps. Why? Find me a New York lady that doesn't have one in her wardrobe, and I'll show you a U.S. office where you can still smoke a pack-and-a-half of Lucky Strikes before lunchtime -- some things are forever.
Score: Paris 1, New York 0.
Words by Sheena McKenzie Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE FASHION: I'd know that blonde pageboy bob anywhere. It's either the shorter one from Abba or Anna Wintour. And since this is all about style, that rules out 70s disco. Add a pair of Hollywood shades and you've got the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, a woman who the Metropolitan Museum of Art named a wing after -- henceforth known as the Anna Wintour Costume Center -- and supposedly inspired Meryl Streep to scare the bejeezus out of her employees in 2006 film "The Devil Wears Prada."
Paris' counterpart is fashion designer Sonia Rykiel, who created something called the "Poor Boy Sweater," and while obviously has an impressive head of hair, doesn't really carry the same clout as her American style sister. Perhaps former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren summed it up best in his 1994 song: "Who the hell is Sonia Rykiel?"
Score: Paris 1, New York 1 Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE HANDS: Forget a tousled-looking Bridget Bardot pulling back on her little "tabac" while wrapped in nothing but a bed sheet. Did you not get the memo? Smoking isn't sexy anymore. It kills people, and besides, it's been illegal to smoke in public places in France since 2007.
Nails, on the other hand -- literally, it's the other hand in the picture -- have been making a fashion comeback of late, with Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Rihanna sporting the particularly pointy variety. Fun fact: Last year a devoted "monster" paid $12,000 for one of Gaga's acrylic accessories. Would they have forked out that amount of dosh for her cigarette butt? Let's hope not.
Score: Paris 1, New York 2. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE MOOD: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it's cooler to say "No." It gives you instant power and a general aura of superiority. "Will you be my Facebook friend?" "No." Hmmm, feels good (please note, I definitely will be your Facebook friend).
"No people" are like the cats of the human world, whereas "Yes people" are like the eager-to-please dogs, mindlessly bounding into things, both charming and infuriating us with their reckless behavior. And in this world, don't you just need a bit of both? One point to each city.
Score: Paris 2, New York 3. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE MEETING: Meeting new people is awkward enough without trying to work out the most culturally-appropriate way to touch them. In France, this is a minefield with the number of pecks per cheek alternating from one to four, depending on which part of the country you're in. As one bewildered British journalist said: "The difficulty lies in anticipating how many to expect, without looking too much like a goalkeeper preparing to stop a penalty."
That said, isn't kissing just a bit more glam, just a bit more risque, hell just a bit more fun, than wobbling someone's hand?
Score: Paris 3, New York 3. Courtesy Artwork from Vahram Muratyan.
THE ROMANTIC: At first glance, you'd think Amelie and Carrie had nothing in common. One is a kooky, cute-as-a-button waitress looking for love. And the other is a sassy, Manolo Blahnik-wearing writer looking for...oh I see what's going on here. There are other freaky cross-overs too -- In 2001 film "Amelie," her father's gnome visits New York. While the final episode of noughties TV series "Sex and the City," finds Carrie Fisher in Paris.
Both are brilliant. But sometimes it's about knowing when to quit while you're ahead -- "Amelie" was only one film, and "Sex and the City" should never have been a film. This one goes to Paris.
Score: Paris 4, New York 3. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE CRAZE: Quick French lesson: "Pret-a-porter" means ready-to-wear, as in off-the-rack, as in factory-made fashion available in your size. Quick English lesson: "Fashion Week" means beautiful models with no eyebrows/big eyebrows, all-night parties, and "frow" envy (that's "front row" for the rest of us).
Judging by these pictures they're pretty much the same thing, except one has a monstrously large model who may or may not have eyebrows. Let's go with the French one.
Score: Paris 5, New York 3. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE DESIRE: "I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love" -- The one and only Marilyn Monroe. It's kind of hard to beat her, isn't it?
Which is unfortunate for French femme fatale Catherine Deneuve; the entrancing beauty who starred in 1967 classic "Belle du Jour," became a muse of Yves Saint Laurent, and at the age of 70 continues to appear in a couple of films each year. But still. It's Marilyn.
Score: Paris 5, New York 4. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE BEAT: This is a bit unfair, isn't it? One is a pop duo who may or may not have faces, and the other is a music genre stretching decades and encompassing some of the most extraordinary chest hair and thrusting the world has ever known.
That said, fashion is all about what's new and cool -- or at the very least ironic -- so that still rules out both camps. If you want to retain any credibility this year, don't put "Get Lucky" on at a house party, and don't say the word "funky" unless referring to an unpleasant odor. No points to either.
Score: Paris 5, New York, 4. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE DRINK: Call me a stickler, but if a city is going to have a signature beverage it could at least come from that city. Sometimes the clue is in the name, in this case Bordeaux being from Bordeaux -- that charming wine growing region in the south west of France and roughly 600 kilometers from anything vaguely Parisian.
Whereas Cosmo, as everyone knows, is an area of New York just above Sex and the City Street, and below Manolo Blahnik Boulevard. And just look at that fancy garnish.
Score: Paris 5, New York 5. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE FAÇADE: The ornate window sills, the delicate stone work, the lack of fire escapes...Parisian architecture is like walking into a dream with no way out.
Sure, New York's modern brick buildings have a more brutish character. They're brazen, they're raw, the ladders kind of remind me of a body turned inside-out. But isn't it great how the very thing that makes them edgy, also makes them safe? Winner.
Score: Paris 5, New York 6. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE SEASONING: Looking at the picture on the right, you can almost hear the undignified explosion of ketchup from its greasy plastic bottle. The bottomless coffee pot is just out of sight, as are the renegade slops of mustard and scatterings of (not so French) fries.
It doesn't matter if the Brasserie is situated in the worst part of Paris, it's always going to seem just that bit more chic than an American diner. Which might also explain how they get away with charging $6 for a cup of coffee.
Score: Paris 6, New York 6. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE RUN: Paris. Number of Michelin star restaurants: 97. New York. Number of Michelin star restaurants: 62.
Note: The only time it's acceptable to wear a bib is when you're a baby or when you're eating something that costs more than a week's rent.
Score: Paris 7, New York 6. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE SNOW: "The first thing I remember from New York is the amount of snow, because I was there during wintertime," artist Vahram Muratyan said of this picture. "We don't have that in Paris. We don't have one meter of snow in the city -- we have one meter in the Alps where you go skiing."
Murayan makes an important point. Snow is handy for sports. Less so, when trying to park your car.
Score: Paris 8, New York 6. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE STREETS: "We're forced to walk at these right angles. I mean, doesn't she find it infuriating?!" rails New York tour guide Timothy "Speed" Levitch in cult 1998 documentary "The Cruise."
He's got a point. The grid plan is practical and all, but where's the meandering romance? It makes it difficult to ask a handsome stranger for directions when everything is in chronological order. Paris je t'aime!
Score: Paris 9, New York 6. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan
THE STYLE: This essentially comes down to your preference for blue stripes or red ones. Obviously Jean Paul Gaultier is a big fan of the blue variety. As was Pablo Picasso and Audrey Hepburn.
I can't even find a photo of Ralph Lauren wearing red stripes on the internet. If you can, then I might be convinced. But otherwise, this culture clash is signed, sealed, and delivered with a kiss: Paris wins!
Score: Paris 10, New York 6. Courtesy Vahram Muratyan