Fashion Week – An Evolution

Each September, New York City is transformed into the stylish and sophisticated world belonging to fashion.  It has that feeling reminiscent of the first day of school.  There’s the excitement of seeing friends after a long summer of work, the display of crisp new clothing, and the rush of possibly being this year’s trendsetter.  For one week only the tents are hoisted high and filled with crowds of designers, makeup artists, reporters, socialites, celebrities and those lucky enough to score access.  The days all seem to blend together, packed with runway shows, designer presentations and the glamorous after parties that last all night.  While us seemingly “small people” are seen gawking over long limbs and splashes of color and design, the designers are in anticipation for approval of their newest collection. Just take it all in, it’s fashion week after all!  

 New York City, one of the four fashion capitals of the world, hosts one of the most prominent Fashion Weeks.  It is all about the future;  declaring what’s in, what’s out and hypnotizing retailers and buyers alike.  Although Fashion Week is always looking forward, there is a rich history and a number of significant fashionistas making it the important industry icon we know today.  In 1943, the first New York Fashion Week was held, with one main purpose: to distract attention from French fashion during World War II.  It was during this time when workers in the fashion industry were unable to travel to Paris.  This was an opportune moment – as for centuries designers in America were thought to be reliant on the French for inspiration.  It was starting then that women became the integral part of Fashion Week that we know it today.

 The American Dream

Eleanor Lambert

During the 1930’s Lambert was named the first Press Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art.  Her rich history of fashion and art played an integral role in her contribution to founding the Museum of Modern Art as well as representing Jackson Pollock, Jacob Epstein and Isamu Noguchi.  In 1943 Lambert organized an event she called “Press Week” to showcase American designers for fashion journalists.  Press Week proved to be a huge success resulting in major fashion magazines like Vogue phasing out French designs for innovative American fashion.  This fashion maven proved to be a game change for the industry.  She was formally asked by the US Government to present American fashion for the first time in Russia, German, Italy, Australia, Japan, Britain and Switzerland.  She defined what we today know as Fashion Week  breaking through the barriers of French fashion being the “ultimate” fashion and shaping the American fashion industry.

 A Foreign Affair

Coco Chanel

French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand Chanel is one of the most important designers ever to enter the industry.  Chanel was born into a lifestyle of French peasant stock but lived her life determined to rise above her humble origins.  She is credited with liberating women from the constraints of the corseted silhouette and making the sportive, casual chic trend acceptable in the post World War I era.  Her design aesthetic redefined the fashionable woman of her time and still resonates a look of youthful ease, liberation, and confidence.  The fashion industry has many things to thank Chanel for; a favorite being the “little black dress”.  This contribution to the fashion lexicon survives to this day and I am sure appears in most every woman’s closet!

 An Expression of Style

Princess Diana

Princess Diana was one of the most photographed women in the world making her wardrobe the target of constant discussion.  In her early life, Diana wore little make-up and was less concerned with her dress being sophisticated and more so with it being comfortable.  Upon her engagement, she began experimenting with more appropriate fashion choices.  In the beginning, she found it difficult to find the right “look” being scrutinized as “very British” or “dressing older than her years”.  She quickly learned that her appearance was key to the way people perceived her and decided it was time to make a change.  Princess Diana videotaped every one of her television appearances and carefully began to analyze every detail of her hair, makeup, and clothing.  She mastered the art of how to dress diplomatically developing an acute sense of the right clothes for the right occasion.  Much of what made Princess Diana very popular and beloved by the public was her modern approach to her own life, both public and private. As with the other great style icons of this century, it was Diana’s ability to look cool and chic in the simplest attire.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” – Coco Chanel

Let the Fashion Week festivities begin!


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