The origin Fashion Show concept :
• Originated in France, it came of age in the 1700s, under Louis XIV but ended with the first haute couture house in Paris that was owned by Frederick Worth in 1858.
• The couture industry was born but it was private and exclusive to press.
• Designers held fashion shows in their ateliers for their most prized clients.
• “Fashion Parade” (défilés de mode) took places wherein models formed a line to showcase the salon’s wares.
Fashion weeks history Timeline :
• 1945: The beginning of Paris couture shows.
• 1958: Milan Fashion Week foundation by the Italian Chamber of Commerce.
• 1973: Paris Fashion Week organization under the French Fashion Federation
• 1984: London Fashion Week establishment by the British Fashion Council.
1/ Paris Fashion Week (1945):
Unlike the other fashion capitals, there are actually two types of “fashion weeks” in Paris if we don’t consider the menswear shows: The “Haute couture” shows and the “prêt-à-porter” shows.
Haute couture shows have been held in Paris since at least 1945 « when the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture required couture houses to present a collection of at least 35 with both daytime and evening wear «. As for “Semaine de la mode,” it was established by the French Fashion Federation (Fédération Française de la Couture) in 1973 and was held originally at Versailles Palace. Actually, the Paris Fashion Week calendar and awards accreditation appear under the control of the federation. Also, various independent events took place during Paris Fashion Week.
Keep reading to find out about the history of New York Fashion Week.
2/New York Fashion Week (1943):
New York was the first city to begin organizing shows seasonally. This prestigious event is only held two times a year (September and February) in New York.
In 1903, a New York City shop called Ehrich Brothers wanted to draw the attention of female shoppers, so they held an event which is now thought to be the first runway show in the United States. This idea was inspired by fashion parades in couture salons and aimed to promote stores and to improve 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 so popular, seducing thousands of people, that stores in New York in the fifties had to obtain a license to have live models.
In 1943, the first « Press Week » called » New York Fashion Week nowadays was established by Eleanor Lambert, who was a press director for the New York Dress Institute. This event was an alternative for fashion buyers to French fashion during World War II when fashion designers and press publishers were not able to travel to Paris. According to fashion reviews, it was so successful that it appeared in notable magazines like Vogue. In the mid-1950s, the name of this event was changed to “Press Week of New York.”
During this time, shows were held in different locations and coordinated to time all over the city until a disastrous show had happened in 1990, when « a piece of the ceiling fell on a model while Michael Kors was presenting his collection. The industry agreed that shows shouldn’t be held in various venues and things needed to change. »
In 1993, Fern Mallis, who was the head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, combined all of the fashion shows into a white tent in Bryant Park. It was called “7th on 6th,” named after the event management company founded by the CFDA. In 2004, 7th on 6th was sold to IMG and then to Olympus, the name of the event was changed to Olympus Fashion Week. Another change happened three years later when Mercedes-Benz gained primary sponsorship and the name changed to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
Today, the shows are still held within the same week, twice a year based on the fashion seasons, but are produced by several events management companies. It has become the must-attend event of the year.
London Fashion Week