My current home, Barcelona, came out at number 6 among the top ten and my former home, Madrid, claimed a double achievement: number 10 on the overall list and number 4 on the list of cities “that made the most important contribution to the world.” (The top five cities and their contributions on this other list were Milan for fashion, Washington D.C. for politics, Madrid for culture, and Tokyo for technology.)
According to a report about the list by Nicola Ruiz that appears in Forbes.com, "cities were judged on lifestyle, buzz, multiculturalism, cultural life and attractiveness. Respondents, for example, were asked to rank 40 cities on climate and weather, pollution and the physical attractiveness of buildings and parks. They were asked how warm and welcome they expect the people of each city to be, and how important each city's contribution to the world has been over the last 30 years in the areas of science, culture and government.”
She then goes on to list the, “Capitals Of Cool.” Here's some more of what she wrote, along with scattered comments by me:
1. London, UK London landed atop the list in part because almost one-third of the world's population (including those in Australia, India and Canada) has ties to the British Commonwealth and consider London the financial, fashion and music capital of the world. The announced 2012 Olympics also gives it a stylish stamp of approval. The Spice Girls and David Beckham may have both benefited from Tony Blair's Cool Britannia campaign in the late '90s, positioning London as cool, hip and happening, but it's also the city's history, multiculturalism and wealth that send it to the top of the Most Stylish Cities list. "The only downside to London is its safety and expense," says Simon Anholt, who conducted the City Brands Index survey. "But these two factors also help its image: If it were too safe, people wouldn't find it as exciting, and if it were cheaper it would get less respect."
2. Paris, France While Paris came in second, Anholt says it's done less to deserve this elite spot than other cities. With no notable new buildings going up since the Arche de La Defense 20 years ago, and few new crowd-pleasing events of late, Anholt says that Paris, like Rome and Milan, is riding on its reputation. "It's almost cliché that Paris is one of the most stylish cities," he says. "It's burned into the global, popular culture. Particularly in developing countries, people expect that in Paris they'll get the best food and fashion as well as a chic lifestyle. It could turn into an awful place for many years and it still wouldn't lose that reputation."
3. Sydney, Australia "Sydney's been very clever in the way it's been able to create an image that's more sophisticated than just kangaroos and the Outback," says study author Anholt. "The opera house helps suggest that there's high culture, classy cuisine and night spots, but it was the 2000 Olympics that really put it on the map. It's been a textbook case of how to make a virtually unknown city in the middle of nowhere into a mega brand."
4. New York, U.S.A. "If you live outside of the U.S., New York is perceived as being the capital of the U.S.," says study author Simon Anholt. "The East Coast city isn't blamed for the U.S. foreign policy; Washington D.C. takes the heat for that. New York encapsulates everything that has always been wonderful about America." "No other city has so much artistic, musical, business and entertainment talent, all in one place," says Philip Kotler, professor of international marketing at Northwestern University and author 40 books on place marketing." Anyone who says they are bored in New York is hopeless."
5. Rome, Italy "The charm of Rome comes from the Italian style of life," says Philip Kotler, professor of international marketing at Northwestern University and author of 40 books on place marketing. "This city's high level of style is encapsulated in the art, food, music, beauty and history."
6. Barcelona, Spain "Much like Sydney, Barcelona received a tremendous amount of attention after it hosted the 1992 Olympics," says study author Simon Anholt. "It has a very distinctive architectural style from the Gaudí architecture to the amazing cathedral La Sagrada Familia. Having a visual icon is incredibly important and that seems to count almost more than anything else. People like a visual image to attach to memories in their minds."
7. Melbourne, Australia "Melbourne is the city that Australians rank highest in the world--they rank Sydney second and London third," says study author Simon Anholt. "Melbourne is the one that people simultaneously admit to knowing least about but liking most. In fact, it would appear that the only thing they know about it is that it's a city in Australia, but this fact is sufficient to rank it seventh place."
8. Berlin, Germany "Berlin is perceived as being stylish and in recent years has earned a reputation for being a trend setting city," says study author Simon Anholt. "It has youth appeal, great nightlife and a strong youth culture."
9. Amsterdam, Holland "Amsterdam is a very rare example of a city that has a more powerful brand than its country ... usually it's the other way around," says Simon Anholt, author of the study. "Amsterdam is all about sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll, and it works hard to keep that reputation. Amsterdam is one of a small handful of cities that I think passes the cool T-shirt test. 'I heart Amsterdam' on a plain white T-shirt would sell for more than if it were just a plain white T-shirt."
If someone understands the cool T-shirt test, please leave a comment.
I'm sort of repeating myself, aren't I? Only one more city to go.
10. Madrid, Spain "Madrid is one of the more visited cities in the index," says...Anholt. "People know it and visualize the city and its residents easily." Adds Philip Kotler, professor of international marketing at Northwestern University and author of books on place marketing, "It has wonderful parks and museums, culturally there's a lot of pride in the people in Madrid."
And that rounds out this stylishly superfluous list.
OK, g2g 'cuz I'm meeting up with a few trig international friends at one of Barcelona's chic Span-Asian fusion sushi/tapas bars before going to “The Revolution Will Be Fabulous!” exhibit of designer Che-wear at the Barcelona Fashion Museumatoruim. (It's a fund raiser for the Style-Conscious Conservation Fund -- a very worthy, and stylish, cause.) Then we'll have dinner at this marvelous organic seafood restaurant called “La la” that has it's own seaweed garden, where you can watch your side-dishes grow. After that it'll be dessert at a trendy gourmet churrería, which serves piping hot low-fat churros that have been flavorfully enhanced with exotic ingredients like chili, ginger, coriander, along with au courant drinks like coconut milk latte with a sprig of something or other. We'll probably close the evening off at a smart little seaside bar called “El el” that specializes in Absinthe martinis, served to a reggaeton synthonic chill-up beat in a retro op-art environ. So, peace out from 6 of 10! (Oh, that's the new Barcelona designation.)
Hasta luego amig@s,
P.S. Like most on-line periodicals, Forbes.com has a section beneath its articles where readers can leave comments. A couple of commenters thought Hong Kong should have been included on the list. You can view the whole article, and even leave a comment there yourself, by clicking here. Photos and quotes about each of the top 10 cities can be found here.