It is that time of the year again: Fashion Week is upon us! The Fall/Winter 2013-2014 collections due to debut across the world in the forthcoming weeks are about to generate such a buzz in the media that even the most disinterested can’t ignore. But who is responsible for this fashion frenzy?
August 1914 saw the first pioneering fashion shows as we know them today. The imminent threat to World War One prompted the then US Vogue editor, Edna Woolman Chase, to come up with an idea to keep the French fashion ideas and concepts flowing into the US fashion industry. Chase organised a charity show in Paris, for which she encouraged the best couturiers to create new designs, taught models how to walk elegantly and persuaded upper class women to buy tickets.
The real beginnings of Fashion Week, however, can be traced back to July 20th 1943, when fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert launched what was then call Press Week in New York City. Lambert’s venture encouraged journalists to turn their attention to local talents in the US, rather than primarily focussing on French designers.
Needless to say, Lambert was successful in ending centuries of French dominance of the fashion industry. It can be argued that her success was aided by the onset of World War Two, which cut off international audiences for European designers, and enforced on them strict fabric rations.Holding the second Press Week six months later in January 1944 established the industry event as a semi-annual tradition. Thanks to Lambert’s brilliant idea, “Made in America” became a household name.
30 years later Press Week took over Paris by showcasing US designers alongside famous French couturiers in 1973. Fast forward another 20 years to 1994 when Press Week reached its full potential and became the Fashion Week we know today.
The very same year saw the gathering of all the Fashion Week shows in one venue for the first time. The shows, which were previously scattered across NYC, were to be held in what was until recently seen as the holy grail of fashion week; Bryant Park.
Since then, Fashion Week has continued to evolve and transform. The 2000s witnessed the birth of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in 2008 and its move from Bryant Park to Lincoln Centre’s Damrosch Park in 2010.
Despite its American origins, Fashion Week has spread across the world. Paris Fashion Week started in 1973, Milan followed in 1979 and London Fashion Week finally took off in 1984 in a West London car park.
Today, the bi-annual event showcases fall/winter and spring/summer collections, the earlier of the two kicking off in New York on February 7th and culminating in Paris’s grand finale on March 6th. Similarly, the fall/winter fashion weeks across the globe will follow the fashion capital’s lead and begin their campaigns at the beginning of March, some of which have been mentioned here on Label Online content. From international fashion weeks to ethical ones, haute couture leaves no stone unturned.
Fashion Week continues to grow and transform with a dizzying speed, one can only dream of what its future beholds…