New York Fashion Week (1943)
New York is the first city to begin hosting seasonal shows. However, the concept of “fashion show” itself, comes from France.
In the 1850s, French couture houses held private fashion shows for their most valued clients. With the birth of this new couture industry (a world that was exclusive and somewhat closed off at the time), top designers held fashion shows at their ateliers for their most valued clients. This often involves a “fashion parade,” in which models form a line to showcase salon items. fashion shows in Paris are still called “défilés de fashion” – the fashion parade – today.
Early Fashion Shows According to William Leach’s Land of Desire, America’s first fashion show was most likely held in 1903, in a New York City specialty store called Ehrich Brothers. By the 1920s, shows had become mainstream, mainly held in department stores and hotels. In 1903, a specialty store in New York City held what was likely the first fashion show in the US. In 1943, fashion super-publicity Eleanor Lambert decided to group the event into specific time frames, which were called interchangeably “Fashion Press Week” and “Press Week”. (For Eleanor Lambert’s great history, see Eleanor Lambert’s book: Still Here, by John Tiffany.) The idea was to put shows together to improve American fashion during the French occupation.
In 1943, New York shows grouped together to enhance American fashion during the French occupation. The show is set to a certain time, but not yet a certain place. The first time the New York show was consolidated in one location occurred in 1993, under Fern Mallis, who was then the Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (an organization founded by Eleanor Lambert). Even so, the event was not branded “New York Fashion Week”. They are called “7 on the Sixth,” after the event management company “7 to 6” founded by CFDA.
In 1993, the events were first put together at one location as “7th on Sixth”. (Meanwhile, it should be noted that London Fashion Week, including the actual words “Fashion Week”, has been popular in the UK since 1984.)
In 2001, “7th on Sixth” was sold to IMG (International Management Group), and in 2004, Olympus became the main sponsor, and the event became known as “Olympus Fashion Week.”
In 2007, Mercedes-Benz became the main sponsor, and the event was known as “Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week”.
NY events have names such as “Olympus Fashion Week” and “Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York.” Currently, IMG events are known as “New York Fashion Week: Show”, and still represent about 1/3 of the total New York Fashion Week schedule.
Today’s IMG show covers nearly 1/3 of the total New York Fashion Week schedule.
NYFW Best “Founded By” Date: 1943
1943 – Seasonal flocking (under the New York Dress Institute)
• 1990s – Began to be called “New York Fashion Week”, after the leadership of “London Fashion Week”
• 1993 – Organizationally classified by the CFDA as “7th on Sixth”
Today The Shows are still grouped seasonally, but are hosted by a variety of producers, from IMG to independents like Alexander Wang, plus several other companies. Manufacturers include – or have recently entered – IMG, MADE (recently acquired by IMG), CFDA, Macy’s, and FTL Moda. There are also independent shows, like Alexander Wang, or Last season’s Givenchy. London Fashion Week (1984) London Fashion Week is the first series of English-language events to use the term “Fashion Week”, which began in 1984. The history of London Fashion Week is a little clearer than others. The event was originally hosted by the British Fashion Council, which still hosts the event to this day. London was also the first fashion week to broadcast their show live for a worldwide audience, in Spring 2010.