Fashion Week is an international event where thousands of people migrate to the style capitals of the world to get the scoop on the latest runway trends. September 4th kicks of the start of one of the top 4 fashion showcases in the entire world, New York Fashion Week. Everyone is just dying to get to NYFW…Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, Stylist Michaela Erlanger, just about ever fashion blogger, and even lil ol’ me.
But have you ever stopped and wondered, Where did the idea of Fashion Week come from? And just why in heavens name did the fashion genius behind this put together such a grueling showcase?
Well, heres the story for you…
Prior to World War II, the New York fashion scene didn’t get any playtime. Paris, France was at the forefront of all International Fashion. Popular magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar solely featured Parisian couture designs which led American Journalists and everyday women to scout out inspiration and couture pieces from French Designers.
Now, remember this year: 1943
During the year of 1943, France, by now a major participant in WWII, was occupied by Nazi Germany. Since the Nazi soldiers were a major threat at the time, it was practically impossible for International Journalist to enter Paris to attend the well popular fashion shows and events.
Eleanor Lambert, a publicist from New York, saw this as an opportunity to enhance the reputation of American Fashion and solidify a position for local couture designers in international fashion. She created a fashion showcase called Press Week. Now, before Eleanor’s Press Week, regional journalist could never fully cover designers because they were only allowed to shadow buyers in local stores. However, Press Week solely granted international and regional media access to the American fashion showcase.
The first showcase was held at the Plaza Hotel and featured 53 shows in the form of a block schedule. Press received packages containing photographs of the couture pieces and press releases. As for buyers, they were required to schedule a showroom visit to view all of the collections featured on the runways.
Less than half of the journalist she sent an invite to attended Press Week, but it was enough to make the event an instant international success and ultimately, create history. The Daily News, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar now boasted of American Collections featured at Press Week.
Press Week continued to take place in different NYC locations throughout the years. Designers staged shows at local restaurants, hotels, and lofts until 1990 when an unfortunate incident occurred at a Michael Kors show involving an injured runway model.
The director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (also founded by Eleanor), Fern Mallis quickly took action and relaunched Press Week as New York Fashion Week under the tents of Bryant Park in the spring of 1994. Celebrities, stylists, editors, and major sponsors like Mercedes Benz flocked to the annual event. Unfortunately, the tents of Bryant Park were to small to sustain the growing crowd, so the Council and IMG Fashion decided to permanently station the event at a new location, the Lincoln Center.
The Lincoln Center annually harbors one of the most iconic fashion shows in the world and some of most talented designers of the decade. Although, Fashion Week was created for other purposes, we can’t deny the fact that even under immense pressure and hectic schedules, it peacefully unites people from all walks of life for an evening of admiration and inspiration!
Sources: Time, Huffington Post, Smith Sonian Magazine, Savoir Flair, Google Images
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