The Urban Catwalk

Ramon Giron-Melendez
April 9, 2013

Boston, New York City, and Chicago, all great centers of American culture, each of them uniquely displaying America’s best, ranging from architecture, education, arts, to fashion. Yet, with all the prestige these American cities bask in, Vienna and her delightful citizens by no means stand on the sidelines, instead through their unique sense of style, this Central European city steals the spotlight away from these vibrant New World metropolises.

Making my way along Kärtnerstrasse on those rare moments when my ipod is not in my ears, an urban catwalk suddenly starts to emerge downtown Vienna. Here, Viennese fashion shines, introducing the swarming tourists “a la mode” of Europe, while constantly reminding current locals of the high standard of style these cosmopolitan Austrians have silently consented to. Of course, as a simple History major who delights in dwelling and reminiscing on the good old days of the Habsburg Monarchy, my life observations are severely limited to what my American intellectual lens allows me to see. Nevertheless, as a young man raised by 4 Latina Divas; including a hair stylist Aunt who insisted on wearing heels through her sixth month of pregnancy, an independent grandmother who relentlessly strives to find the best diet despite the fact that she is in her mid 70’s, a sister who believes that a day without earrings is like a day of shameful nudity, and a mother who banned cookies and sweets from home in order to encourage clear skin in her children, I’d like to think that my male mind might have had its psyche and testosterone sufficiently polished to result in the acquisition of some sense of style, enabling me to notice at least a trend or two in the world around me.

It has been especially enjoyable to watch the Viennese arrange their extra layers in the middle of winter, always with great elegance, seemingly saying, “yes I am fighting against the bitter cold, but that does not mean that I have to look as if I were fighting off the cold.” Of these layers that winter has pulled out, the cotton scarf is the most visible in Vienna. Sure, you’ve seen scarves in the States, where men walk around with them tightly tucked into their coats as the women strut around with these multi colored fashion bits draped over their shoulders. But here, it is surprising to see how many times the Viennese are able to wrap their scarves around themselves. Here the scarf not only keeps warm, but also seems to create a brighter countenance for the conventionally dull colored winter coat. With most scarves standing out with hues of yellow, orange, and purple, the Viennese are able to simultaneously highlight the face, while brightening up the general appearance of the upper torso.

Moreover, the Viennese are able to regulate exactly how much brilliance the scarves exude. Indeed the more ostentatious citizens of Vienna will have their scarves looped around the necks, at least 3 times. The reason? Who says taking refuge from gusts and snow must make one look stressed! Why not add a panache of style to an otherwise dreary winter wardrobe? With winds blowing, and a chill creeping up, who has the time to smile and sparkle on the streets? No, to the Viennese, a long attention-calling scarf will have to do. However, for the more modest Viennese, the short scarf does exist. Wrapping around only twice, this stylish accessory adds a fun accent to one’s somber winter dress, but with its shorter length gives off a cooler aura, commanding respect and social distance. Long or short, the Viennese and their scarves trail blaze winter fashion, proving that just because there is no sun it does not mean that you cannot create your own warmth, spark, and glow!




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Ramon Giron-Melendez

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Ramon, originally from Boston, MA, is a Junior currently studying History at Columbia College. Specializing in Eastern European history with a focus on the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, he hopes to deepen his understanding of the fundamentals of the dual monarchy during his time in Vienna. Through comparative research of geo-politically marginalized regions, he aims to find new ideas to aid development in the 3rd world. Strongly believing that everyone has an inner child, he actively works to raise awareness on the rights of children worldwide through is involvement as co-president of the Columbia Child Rights group. However what most captures Ramon&rsquo;s imagination is his admiration for one of Europe&rsquo;s greatest institutions, The Eurovision Song Contest itself! Eagerly following year round developments, Ramon enjoys watching how countries choose to represent themselves to the world and how they project their national identities unto this unique international platform. A passionate fan of music, he spends as much time as possible following the music industry. He can usually be found reading Rolling Stone magazine, keeping his eyes peeled for new emerging music genres, and eagerly looking out for new artists on the rise!</span></div>

2013 Spring
Home University:
Columbia University - CC and SEAS
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