Fashion Week History

Fashion Week New York, an annual Fall event, is a traditional gathering that dates back to World War II.

Fashion Week, once called Press Week, first took place in New York City in 1943. With Fashion Week typically taking place in Paris France and due to the war, fashion insiders were unable to travel into the country and see the latest and greatest in trends. This is when Eleanor Lambert stepped up and organized a fashion week within the United States and with that put American fashion into the spotlight.  Her idea of Fashion Week in America continued and was held in different locations such as hotels or lofts. In 1994, the event moved to Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library, where it remained until this year. As of next year, it will again be relocated to the Lincoln Center.

Around the world there are four major fashion weeks.

They take place in the same order each year so that fashion devotees can attend each of them, if they wish. The "Big Four" are located in New York, London, Milan and Paris. The event is held twice a year, one in Fall/Winter (February) and the other in Spring/Summer (September).  Each event lasts one week and allows fashion designers, brands and ‘houses' to display their latest collections. These collections are shown off through runway shows and allows buyers to get an inside glance at the latest trends.

Fashion shows of course occurred in America before Lambert's Fashion Week in New York City. Large department stores were hosting fashion events for middle-class American women, featuring the latest styles being sold in their stores. Sometimes these events were called ‘fashion parades.' The parades had a theme and was accompanied by a commentator.

Today, attending an event like New York Fashion week can only be done if you are invited. Invitations are often limited to buyers, fashion magazine editors, fashion magazine journalists, models, celebrities and such.

But not to worry, Fashion Week and technology have joined together and now Fashion Week is being shown via satellite and through the Internet. This expansion in technology has saved designers thousands of dollars in travel costs. In addition, with an Internet presence, some designers are marketing their work exclusively online. Applications for iPhones have even been created to help showcase designs and Fashion Week.

Designers who are selling exclusively online include Normal Kamali and the Polo Ralph Lauren Rubgy brand. Because of the technological changes, in 2009 runway models could be seen carrying mini notebooks rather than handbags.

Another trend seen during fall 2009 Fashion Week was that items were designed and shown for both fall and spring. An example was a bold colored dress that could be worn over a turtleneck in the winter and as a stand alone in the spring. There were also convertible blazers by Vera Wang and Karen Walker.

What will Fashion Week of 2011 demonstrate? With the recession and technology combined, it is hard to tell.