The Origins of Fashion Week

fashion week

Every time I turn my head, it seems like it’s Fashion Week somewhere. Just this past weekend when I was in Austin for a wedding, it was apparently Fashion Week (which explains why plane tickets were practically impossible to get and almost all of the hotels were sold out). Before that, it was New York Fashion Week and Miami Fashion Week (or maybe the latter one hasn’t happened yet – it’s hard to keep track), so out of curiosity I decided to look into the origins of this popular fashion phenomenon that seems to have become even more intense and frantic as the years go by.

Believe it or not, Fashion Week’s origins stem all the way back to 1943 (during the second World War) when the first fashion week was held by publicist Eleanor Lambert in New York. At the time it was called “Press Week” and was assembled in order to showcase American designers’ latest fashions to journalists. The event was designed to attract attention away from French fashions during the war, when fashion journalists and industry insiders weren’t able to travel to Paris to see French fashion shows. Lambert even offered to pay the expenses for out-of-town journalists traveling to New York for Fashion Week, and following the huge success of the event, fashion magazines like Vogue began to pay more attention to American designers, featuring more of their fashion designs.

Then in 1958, Milan Fashion Week was created to showcase Italian designers, followed by London Fashion Week in 1961. By 2007, over 40 different Fashion Weeks had been established in different countries across the globe, including locations in Hong Kong, Morocco, Mumbai and Berlin. The reputation of Fashion Week as being notoriously hard to get into if not involved in the industry is a relatively recent phenomenon, started in 1994 when its New York organizers decided that admission would be offered by invitation only to fashion industry members, press, various celebrities and others of that ilk. The rest of the world followed suit, and Fashion Week as we now know it – in all it’s exclusive you-can’t-sit-with-us glory – was born.

But of all the fashion weeks, Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week is considered the most famous of them all, requiring the largest amount of resources and money in order to hold this annual event. The top four main fashion weeks around the world are New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, London Fashion Week and Milan Fashion Week.

Some of the fashion trends and mainstays of fashion week include: the little black dress (which was created by Coco Chanel in 1926 and became a closet staple for American women after the war), stiletto heels (which were revived by Roger Vivier who used a thin steel rod to create a tall heel), the mini-skirt (first developed in 1965 by Mary Quant who turned it into an iconic fashion symbol in London), designer jeans (Calvin Klein gets credit for creating the first pair of designer label jeans) and leggings (which were reintroduced to the public in 1979 by Patricia Fields and became increasingly popular during the 1980s aerobics phase).

So if you ever want to sneak into a Fashion Week runway show and you’re pretty sure your name’s not going to be on any of the lists, make sure you’re wearing one or more of the pieces described above. You gotta give yourself a fighting chance!

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