Travel & Reviews

Memphis, Tennessee for a Slightly Different Vacation

June 15, 2018

We’re a little late for the resoundingly successful 2018 Memphis Fashion Week, but it still deserves recognition. Just like iconic Memphian musicians people know and love, the local cultural scene in Memphis, Tennessee is an exciting mix of old and new, traditional and funky, served up every single day of the year. This translates to everything from local music and art to nature attractions and, of course, the fashion scene having an eclectic vibe that you can’t find anywhere else.

As mentioned in a previous LaurenOLauren travel review, there’s something special about soaking in the sights and sounds of a city and getting to know its people… even if you do get lost once or twice along the way! This statement is especially true for Memphis, which has a long history of cultural contributions to the whole country. Nowhere is this more clear than in the world of 20th century music, with Memphians having an important role in the creation of important American music genres like country (Johnny Cash), blues (B.B. King), and good old rock n’ roll (Elvis). And us being fashion devotees, it’s fascinating to look at how music and culture  in Memphis intersect with fashion trends beyond the city borders.

One thing that’s really fascinating about The King is his enduring influence on all things music and fashion. Even 40 years after his passing, Elvis Presley’s iconic style is alive and well on runways and catwalks, from Halpern’s Autumn/Winter 2017 RTW to Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci Spring/Summer 2017 Couture. While the former played up their flamboyant outfits with super-flared pants and meticulously applied sequins, the latter drew from Elvis’ cowboy outfits and fantastical motifs.

If you’re ever in Memphis, don’t pass up the chance to visit Graceland Mansion, The King’s  home 10 miles south of downtown. You will marvel at Elvis’ record collection, pink Cadillac, and even his stunning jumpsuits and other fashion-forward outfits.

All part of Elvis’ celebrity and iconic status, these images have been replicated time and again, most notably with the mansion’s merchandise selection – the largest collection of its kind in the world. It’s also present in countless other mediums, from his movies throughout the ‘60s to all manner of digital ephemera today. For instance, the gaming platform Foxy Casino pays tribute to the King through their Elvis game, which features not just the legendary musician himself, but also jukeboxes, his different outfits, and rock n’ roll music. These elements make fans and casual players “all shook up,” providing an immersive experience around the Memphian. On top of his immortalization on screen, in vinyl, and thousands of impersonators throughout the years, fans can learn about his life in full with a guided tour of Graceland. They can also pay their respects to The King at his final resting place on the mansion grounds.

The rest of the itinerary on our Memphis trip is a little less touristy, but just as immersive in art and fashion. We continue with the focus on music, but this time on Beale Street, which is home to street performers, neon signs, and Memphis-borne musicians.
As great as The King is, Memphis is even bigger than him and his music, having shaped who he was throughout his young life. Graceland’s Director of Public Relations Kevin Kern tells Travel+Leisure, “Memphis is just one of those cities that really has an organic, authentic feel to it… a city with a soul. You can hear that not only in Elvis’ music but also in the blues and soul that comes from Memphis.”

From Beale, walk a few blocks to areas like the Broad Avenue Arts District and the South Main Arts District to get your dose of public art. You can get lost among the beautiful streets that make up this vibrant city. Such creative vibe and free spirit is a great inspiration for your next outfit.
You can drop by the Main Street pedestrian mall as well, which features a new mural almost every day, thanks to local artists and students from the Memphis College of Art. These are perfect places to chat with locals and make the streets your runway. To be honest it’s a great spot to take Instagram pictures too, thank me later.

You may observe fashion the way the locals do it too, and people-watch from one of the many cafes and restaurants lining the walkways. If you’re planning a trip to Memphis, try to set your vacation in May. The city comes alive in gorgeous spring weather, and this is the time for the month-long festival, Memphis in May. The celebration that lets you experience local music, fashion, and art unlike any other occasion.  But that doesn’t mean May is the only time you should go.  Summer is here and summer anywhere is amazing, school is out and everyone is out and about, there is so much to do. So maybe this summer instead of staying home, check out Memphis and get inspired.  Have an amazing weekend everyone.

xoxoxo Lauren

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