WHEN AND WHO STARTED FASHION WEEK?
Since it only comes twice a year, I am like a kid in a candy store!!! I am Fashion Editor Su and I thrive during, “you guessed it,” Fashion Week. The who’s who and “crem de’ la’ crem,” come together for the most spectacular event in the world and in one of the most fabulous of places,”New York.” Do you know what year they held the very first fashion week and who it was started by? 1943 by publicist Elenor Lamber.
WHAT IS FASHION WEEK?
For those of you who don’t know exactly what fashion week is by definition, here it is:
A fashion week is a fashion industry event, lasting approximately one week. This event allows fashion designers, brands to display their latest collections in runway shows. it also allows buyers to take a look at the latest trends. Most importantly, it lets the industry know what is “in” and what is “out” for the season. The most prominent fashion weeks are held in the four fashion capitals of the world: London,Paris,Milan and New York.
In the major fashion capitals, fashion weeks are semiannual events. January through April designers showcase their autumn and winter collections. In September through November the spring/summer collections are shown. Fashion weeks must be held several months in advance of the season to allow the press and buyers a chance to preview fashion designs for the following season. This is also allows time for retailers to make arrangements for purchase or incorporate the designers into their retail marketing.
WHERE IS IT HELD AND WHEN?
WHAT ARE THE COLLECTIONS?
New York, London, Milan and Paris each host a fashion week twice a year with New York kicking off each season and the other cities following in the aforementioned order.
There are two major seasons per year – Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer. For Womenswear, the Autumn/Winter shows always start in New York in February. Spring/Summer shows start in September in London. Menswear Autumn/Winter shows start in January in Milan for typically less than a week followed by another short week in Paris. Menswear Spring/Summer shows are done in June. Womenswear Haute Couture shows typically happen in Paris a week after the Menswear Paris shows.
Over the past few years, more and more designers have shown inter-seasonal collections between the traditional Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer seasons. These collections are usually more commercial than the main season collections and help shorten the customer’s wait for new season clothes. The inter-seasonal collections are Resort/Cruise (before Spring/Summer) and Pre-Fall (before Autumn/Winter).
There is no fixed schedule for these shows in any of the major fashion capitals but they typically happen three months after the main season shows. Some designers show their inter-seasonal collections outside their home city. For example, Karl Lagerfeld has shown his Resort and Pre-Fall collections for Chanel in cities such as Moscow, Los Angeles and Monte Carlo instead of Paris. Many designers also put on presentations as opposed to traditional shows during Resort and Pre-Fall either to cut down costs or because they feel the clothes can be better understood in this medium.
Some fashion weeks can be genre-specific, such as a Miami Fashion Week (swimwear), Rio Summer (swimwear), Prêt-a-Porter (ready-to-wear) Fashion Week, Couture (one-of-a-kind designer original) Fashion Week and Bridal Fashion Week, while Portland (Oregon, USA) Fashion Week shows some eco-friendly designers.
THE FIRST FASHION WEEK
In 1943, the first New York Fashion Week was held, with one main purpose: to distract attention from French fashion during WWII, when workers in the fashion industry were unable to travel to Paris. This was an opportune moment – as for centuries designers in America were thought to be reliant on the French for inspiration. The fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert organized an event she called ‘Press Week’ to showcase American designers for fashion journalists, who had previously ignored their works.
The Press Week was a success, and, as a result, magazines like Vogue (which were normally filled with French designs) began to feature more and more American innovations. Until 1994, shows were held in different locations, such as hotels, or lofts. Eventually, after a structural accident at a Michael Kors show, the event moved to Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library, where it remained until 2010, when the shows relocated to Lincoln Center.
OTHER FASHION SHOWS
However, long before Lambert, there were fashion shows throughout America. In 1903, an NYC shop, called Ehrich Brothers, put on what is thought to have been the country’s first fashion show, to lure middle-class females into the store. By 1910, many big department stores were holding shows of their own.
It is likely that American retailers saw that they were called ‘fashion parades’ in Paris couture salons and decided to use the idea. These parades were an effective way to promote stores, and improved their status. By the 1920s, the fashion show had been used by retailers up and down the country. They were staged, and often held in the shop’s restaurant during lunch or teatime. These shows were usually more theatrical than those of today, heavily based upon a single theme, and accompanied with a narrative commentary. The shows were hugely popular, enticing crowds in their thousands – crowds so large, that stores in New York in the fifties had to obtain a license to have live models.
Nowadays access to New York Fashion Week is by invitation only. Fashion magazine editors, fashion magazine journalists, models (and ex-models,) and celebrities are invited. Other buyers are restricted to the showrooms, stores, and the articles in the magazines.
The dominance of the big four has been criticised for benefiting industry participants. For example, buyers, journalists, models and celebrities can limit their travel and simply move from one city to the other over the four week period. This arrangement has been criticized for stifling manufacturing employment in the UK and design talent in emerging fashion hubs such as Los Angeles.