The History of New York Fashion Week: A look back in time

Celebrating the first day of New York Fashion Week with a brief look at the fashion-filled week’s history.

Prior to 1943, Parisian couture dominated the American fashion and press. However, when American journalists couldn’t travel to Paris for Paris Fashion week during World War 2, a fashion week in New York was introduced as a creative compromise.

Eleanor Lambert, 1903-2003

Eleanor Lambert, 1903-2003

Introducing Eleanor Lambert

Eleanor Lambert, a fashion publish of the time, dreamed up an event where editors could direct their attention to the American fashion designers who had previously gotten very little appreciation from national or international press.

Eleanor Lambert is the recognised founder of New York Fashion Week. The creator of an event where American designers could present their own American-influenced clothing, constructed from American-made materials to editors. Buyers were not permitted to attend the fashion events and instead made showroom visits.

 

Unlike later times, editors, buyers, bloggers and groupies did not have to frantically criss-cross New York to get from one show to another, the shows came to the editors. The shows were all located at the Pierre and Plaza hotels.

Lambert’s vision had become a reality. Editors began name-checking designers who showed at what was then called ‘Press Week’. U.S. designer names were making it to notorious fashion magazines like Vogue for the first time ever.

Dior Fashion Show, New York, 1955

Dior Fashion Show, New York, 1955

New York Fashion Week continued uninterrupted through the decades, and by the 1970s’ and 80s’, shows were being staged in all kinds of places around New York city, such as lofts, galleries, nightclubs and restaurants. However in 1990, at a Micheal Kors show in a rundown loft, the venue trend shifted after a plaster ceiling collapsed onto fashion editors. The Council of Fashion Designers of America decided it was time for a change.

Fern Mallis, the then executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, persuaded the privately owned Bryant Park to erect two white tents and then persuaded designers to show their collections in them.

Pat Cleveland being fitted by Steven Burrows, Palace of Versailles, 1973

Pat Cleveland being fitted by Steven Burrows, Palace of Versailles, 1973

Press Week eventually became known as Fashion week. American Fashion truly came to hight's in 1973, when five American designers were invited to the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, for a competition with French designers. Bill Bass, Stephen Burrows, Halston, Anne Klein and Oscar de La Renta represented American Fashion, and won. 

 

 

 

Our favourite photographs form New York Fashion Week History

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