Fashion Fact Friday – Fashion Week History
For people all around the world, especially during times like these, fashion weeks are the perfect escapism. Four times a year, the top collections are presented in the fashion capitals of the world– New York, London, Milan and Paris. Beautiful people wearing beautiful outfits in beautiful cities flood social media and all we can do is dream. We know and love fashion weeks, but how much do we really know? Let’s find out.
It all started in the 19th century, when the British designer Charles Frederick Worth started showcasing his designs in front of his top clients in France, using real women to model the garments. It’s a common opinion that these were the very first fashion shows. Later on, still in France (Duh), marketers hired women to wear couture garments in public places. This activity was also called "fashion parades", which gradually became social events.
Despite that beautiful story, in the end it was actually New York who was the first city to have an official fashion week (you snooze, you lose, Paris). It occurred in 1943, in order to give buyers an alternative to French fashion, since during WW2 they couldn't travel to the city of lights. Although Paris did have many shows throughout the years, the first official Paris fashion week was held 30 years after NYC, in 1973.
As mentioned before, fashion weeks are held in 4 main locations, each arguably representing a different side of fashion New York is all about street style, London is about innovation, Milan focuses on Italian craftsmanship and legacy while Paris is glam and couture. But the reigning fashion capitals need to watch their back, because there are new competitors in the fashion week arena. Tel Aviv, Sao Paulo, Seoul and more countries are joining the fashion tradition, but Copenhagen and Shanghai are the ones to watch out for.
The question of whether fashion weeks are still relevant is one many people from the industry are debating. This season, the 4 main capitals tackled this question head on, since we're dealing with a global pandemic. Some did a better job than others, but there's no question that fashion houses were super creative. Moschino held a full fashion show all made of dolls (including the guests); Louis Vuitton showcased ss21 collection in a gorgeous Parisian location with a limited amount of guests, sitting 2 meters apart while between them were digital guests, watching the show live from a private screen instead of a seat; Fendi was one of the few to have a traditional runway, subject to restrictions. At the end of the day, the shows were beautiful, the collections were beautiful and the people were beautiful. But what's next?
Fashion weeks are heading into of a historical change, but what will their future be? Only the gods of fashion know. For my personal opinion, stay tuned for a full-blown article coming soon.