Meet the Fashion Icons of Your NYC Neighborhood

Sona Shekhawat
These fashion icons exemplify the various neighborhoods in New York City.

There’s something refreshing about walking through Manhattan and its unique neighborhoods. With each neighborhood’s distinct personality, the city feels alive no matter where you go. With these distinct personalities come distinct looks — so what style icon best represents these neighborhoods?

Upper East Side: Audrey Hepburn

No list is complete without Audrey Hepburn. She’s a fashion staple thanks to her timeless style and grace. She contributed heavily to the New York art scene and inspired dozens of other artists. The Upper East Side has two of Manhattan’s best art museums — the Guggenheim and the MoMA. It’s also a wealthy area known for its socialites, including fictional characters from “Gossip Girl.” Hepburn, a socialite both on and off-screen, was known for being chic and artsy. She’s the perfect fit for the Upper East Side.

Upper West Side: Carolina Herrera

If the Upper West Side and Upper East Side are sisters, then the Upper West Side is the calm intellectual one. It’s just as elegant as its sibling, but readily challenges the world intellectually. Therefore, who is better to showcase intellectual elegance than Carolina Herrera? Herrera is a Venezuelan-American fashion designer who designed clothes for Michelle Obama and Jackie Kennedy. Herrera’s own fashion choices are also impeccable. She is often photographed in sharp suits and elegant, yet formal business attire.

Harlem: Josephine Baker

Harlem, famous for being the home of both Manhattan’s best soul food and the Harlem Renaissance, is known for its rich culture. One of the greatest fashion icons that rose out of the Harlem Renaissance movement was Josephine Baker — a singer and dancer who was also known for her bold, artistic fashion choices. Some of her most iconic looks were inspired by Caribbean fashion. She was so fascinating and lively that Pablo Picasso saw her as his muse.

West Village: Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent was yet another fashion designer whose personal style — chic but suave — made him an icon. Even the earliest dresses he designed for women were trendy and chic with a unique simplicity to them. There is no better person to represent the West Village, which is comfortable, savvy and wealthy.  

East Village: Twiggy

Twiggy is another essential fashion icon. Early in her modeling career, her style was always fun and eccentric, with down-to-earth elements — just like the East Village. Everyone is welcome in the East Village, and pretty much anything goes. There aren’t many quirkier places in Manhattan.

Tribeca: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat’s artwork is more famous than his fashion sense, but his looks were simply the epitome of cool. They were trendy and fun, often industrial and included lots of structured suits.  Regardless of what he was wearing, he always looked cooler than anyone else. Tribeca is a neighborhood that always seems effortlessly cool. Tribeca can be industrial and professional, but also trendy and artsy.

Email Sona Shekhawat at [email protected]

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