The History Behind New York Fashion Week

There’s something even MORE magical about New York City during February and September. Fashion Week!

Fall is one of my absolute favorite times to be in NYC; maybe because the usual hustle and bustle of the Big Apple becomes a slow crawl in comparison to the excitement and frenzy of New York Fashion Week.

And with NYFW kicking off this week, it made me curious about the origins of Fashion Week, and how it became the holy grail for designers, models and stylists worldwide.

It Was Created During War Time

Eleanor Lambert

What we now know as New York Fashion Week, was originally created to bring more attention to American fashion and divert attention from French designers. Fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert started the first fashion week back in 1943 – it was called “Press Week.” During World War II, fashion journalists and insiders were unable to travel to Paris to see French designers, so Lambert thought it was important to showcase American designers – during that time American fashion wasn’t seen as innovative.

Vintage Vogue

It Put American Fashion on a Global Stage

“Press Week” was such a success that Vogue Magazine began to feature more American designers, up until then – fashion magazines were filled with French fashion. By the mid 1950’s designers showcased their work twice a year in February and September in the “Annual Press Week of New York.”

Photo by ADC/REX (46910a)
VARIOUS – 1973

It Became a Revolution in the 70’s

By 1975, other places caught on to New York Fashion Week, and cities like Milan started their own fashion weeks. London begin its fashion week in 1984. There are four major international fashion weeks – known as the “Big 4” – New York City, Paris, London and Milan.

The fashion tents set up in Bryant Park in 1998. Credit Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

It Got an Upgrade in the 90’s

Up until the early 1990’s, fashion shows during fashion week were held at different spaces around New York City. Fashion shows took place at hotels, galleries, clubs, lofts and restaurants – but that all changed when a loft ceiling collapsed during a show; the event was then moved to Bryant Park and the Official New York Fashion Week was born.

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