With New York Fashion Week coming to a recent close, there is a ton to discuss in the name of the hottest looks. Influencers, models and celebrities alike are all invited to this famous event to celebrate one thing: fashion and the creativity through which it is fabricated. Aside from the fashion week shows themselves, the nightlife has an entirely different vibe, with a much more raunchy dress code. But beyond what NYFW has morphed into in the past few decades, where did this tradition begin? How did New York City become known for its iconic and influential fashion? Look no further, because here are the answers to any and all NYFW-related questions!
When Helmut Lang, a fashion brand now owned by Prada, first moved its headquarters to NYC and began to showcase its new looks in September rather than the traditional month of November, the brand began a new trend that other brands were quick to establish themselves. While this most closely connects to what we know as the modern-day New York Fashion Week, some of these more inherent traditions date back as far as World War II. Paris had reigned as the fashion capital of the world for quite some time, influencing trends and designers all over. However, when Paris was under German occupation and thus could not produce textiles or cultivate an environment of creativity in fashion, America was forced to step up and establish a name for itself. This movement planted its roots in none other than New York City, where fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert introduced the idea of a press week to New York’s fashion scene.
This idea became a huge success and was one of the main reasons that people began to take fashion talent based within the United States more seriously. Reporters from all over the country came to cover the event and buyers had the opportunity to visit various showrooms to gain a greater understanding of how fashion created in the United States had the potential to become a powerhouse in and of itself. As the years went on the event only became stronger. Lambert took on the role of creating a calendar to ensure that all of the various designers had enough time to showcase their garments without conflict or interruption. Some of today’s most renowned fashion designers, such as Ralph Lauren, got their start in the early stages of New York Fashion Week, highlighting just how impactful the mid-September event truly is.
The shows became more and more niche as designers began to establish their own unique styles, inspiring them to use intriguing locations that more closely aligned with their desired message for their newest collection. Upon setting up the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Lambert’s initial event only continued to grow into a place revolving around opportunity, creativity and national pride. The shows only began gaining additional traction, becoming more and more outlandish with each passing year in the name of fashion inspiration.
However, the shows were not always as powerful and impactful as they had been planned to be. One of the most infamous New York Fashion Week events occurred during a Michael Kors show in 1991, in which the ceiling began to collapse and scatter debris all over the designs. People were not only frustrated with this event, but also with the lack of a centralized location that forced reporters and buyers to travel all over the city in short periods of time in order to make it to each show. While the shows had improved vastly, they had simultaneously grown to become less efficient, retracting from the beneficial qualities of New York Fashion Week. Thus, it was decided that tents would be set up in Bryant Park to house most of the events, with a few rare exceptions.
The shows soon went on to prove as highly sought-after opportunities for aspiring supermodels, for virtually any known name in the fashion industry was sure to be in attendance. Celebrities and other well-known people of influence began attending the week’s events as well, which further showcases just how impressive the shows had grown to become. Brands began to sponsor the various events of the week, making it incredibly profitable for all parties involved. This is how New York Fashion Week as we know it today came to be, with influencers and celebrities looking forward to this week of fashion shows and after parties for months in advance. Though it is not entirely reminiscent of the original design of New York’s Fashion Week, the rich history and fascinating lore that surrounds the event are sure to be of interest to anyone in the fashion industry and beyond. It has become more monumental than anyone could have imagined, showcasing further just how impactful one small idea can be to an entire international industry.