Fashion Week From the Beginning

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Today, fashion designers, editors, buyers and bloggers are making their way to Lincoln Center and/or several off-site locations for the Fall/Winter 2015 Mercendes-Benz Fashion Week. Over the years, fashion week has become a New York staple in the lives of tourists, locals, and fashionistas alike. Although today the event occurs internationally, the idea of a week filled with fashion dates back to 1858.

The first “fashion show” was presented in 1858 by Charles Frederick Worth in Paris. The type of presentation was the first of its kind. The press was astonished by his use of live models to display the collection. Within a decade, Worth expanded on his fashion presentation idea, developing the “Chambre Syndicale de la Confection et de la Confection et de la Couture pour Dames et Fillettes.” The association was the start of making Paris a fashion capital of the world, sparking an increase in fashion shows and the creation of a fashion calendar to organize future events.

Then during the second World War in the 1940’s, Paris became occupied by the Nazis. They restricted air travel therefore journalists were unable to view shows in France. With opportunity knocking, American fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert decided to move the buzz from Paris to America. Lambert declared “Press Week” to come to New York, calling on designers, journalists and buyers. That year, over 50 designers showed their collection at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Within a few years, Ruth Finely put all the annual week’s events into an official American fashion calendar to bring buyers, editors and designers together. From that point on, “fashion week” became a biannual event.

Spreading across the sea, Italian aristocrat Giovanni Battista Giorgini organized a few shows in 1952 in Florence, Italy. The shows moved to Milan soon after and by 1975 the city created the “Settimana Della Moda” an Italian fashion week calendar of events. By 1984, the fashion week fad popped up in London with the support of Vogue UK and the British government.

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Fashion week as we have come to know it, was crafted by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The CFDA was responsible for the vital changes that reinvented and revolutionized the event. Up until the 1990s, American shows took place in lofts, galleries and other venues throughout New York City. In 1990, the fall of a ceiling during a fashion show worried CFDA members and decided to move fashion week to Bryant Park. The big white tents went up for the first time in 1994.

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Bryant Park
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Lincoln Center

In the last 20 years, New York Fashion Week gained big sponsors like Mercedes-Benz and in 2010 moved to Lincoln Center. In the end of 2014, it was announced however that IMG would not be renewing their sublicense agreement with the uptown location and this Fall/Winter 2015 fashion week will be the last for the center.

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The computer generated sketch for the Hudson Yards Culture Shed

Many fashionistas and fashionistos eagerly await the construction of the Hudson Yards Culture Shed, the new home for New York Fashion Week. Fashion Week has rapidly evolved from a presentation in Paris to showcases all over the world. Today over 130 fashion weeks take place around the world, and the artistic visions of designers spread with the help of the bloggers and online streaming.  Fashion Week has become the holy grail for designers, socialites, editors, and many others. And although the location may continue to change over the years, the event will remain as the epitome of the fashion industry.

Lauren Craddock is a contributing writer. Email her at bstyle@nyunews.com.

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