Yep, the First Fashion Week Took Place in New-York

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The Fashion Week is a big deal in the fashion community, spread over 9 days twice a year and across 4 main cities (the Big Four: New York, Paris, London & Milan).

Originally the chance for designers to present their work to the press and buyers with great pomp, it’s also an opportunity for them to artistically reflect the latest cultural shifts.

IN FACT, the FASHION WEEK IS AN opportunity for DESIGNERS to make (fashion) statements in response to the economical, political and ecological climate of the moment.

The New York Fashion Week, first one in the history, has celebrated its 75th birthday this year. 75 years of eccentric designer’s collections, dazzling runway shows, frenzied crowds of journalists and bold trend setting.

Between fur free collections, plus size body positive and trans models queer, “fuck your wall” lingerie aimed at Trump or black collections supporting the #metoo movement… There’s been a lot of political movements at the fashion week this year, exhibiting much more than trendy outfits and slim figures.

But how did it all begin?

Throwback to the very first fashion week and its vert first political statement.

We are in 1943, middle of World War II, when Americans realize they won’t be able to visit French designers for inspiration that year.

At the time, the latest selections of couture creations had already been displayed in “parades” (“salon” shows, in french) on living models since the 1700s, for small gatherings in private lounges.

Indeed, fashion was important, but not worth dying over.

France was surrounded by the nazis and most designers were in fact either on the run, or preoccupied with other matters than mode.

That’s when the Big Apple decided to step up and take over the role of setting upcoming trends.

Eleanor Lambert, publicist and press director of the NY Dress Institure, took on that mission. France had been the center of attention when it came to fashion from the start and she figured it was time for America to display fashion independence and create its own buzz.

And so she did. She held New York so-called first “Press Week” and managed to gather the press, buyers and other industry workers, to display different live collections at different locations around town.

And this shifted the course of fashion.

It was the beginning of the “Fashion Week” as we know it today.

By using her creativity and ressources to make a political statement that it was time for America to show pride over its local designers and claim its relevance in the fashion industry rather than relying on France as usual, Lambert set an example.

She set the example for anyone to not only use politicAL situations at their advantage to raise their voice, but also transform limitations into opportunities.

Author: Helene Clabecq