Fashion week is not a new concept. It has been in existence since 1943, but was initially called Press Week and began in New York City. The week started when Paris was under Nazi rule, and Americans journalists couldn’t report on the latest fashion from the ateliers. Enter fashion publicist, Eleanor Lambert. She devised the plans for the Press Week to give US journalists the opportunity to report on the best designers from America. This gave American designers a chance to showcase their work without being overshadowed by the Parisians.
Today, there are four major fashion weeks across the globe. New York, Paris, London and Milan. With New York as the oldest of the four and the first in the ‘Big Four’ fashion weeks. Paris is the youngest and the last of the ‘Big Four’. There are many other fashion weeks which have come up, Copenhagen, Australia and Mumbai to name a few, but the Big Four dominate all seasons as they are the hunting grounds of big-name fashion brands with star-studded front rows.
Paris Fashion Week is considered the most revered of the Big Four as it is the only time fashion houses are allowed to present Haute Couture pieces. These garments are the crème-de-la-crème of luxury garments and are sold for exorbitant prices.
Most people have yet to realise. Fashion Week is not once a year event. These happen twice a year in the major fashion capitals with designers presenting collections month in advance to give buyers an opportunity to preview them. The February-March cycle is for the spring-summer collections and the September-October cycle for autumn-winter. Though in recent years, many large fashion houses have begun presenting inter-season shows, Cruise/Resort shows before the Spring/Simmer and Pre-Fall before the Fall/Winter shows.
Fashion week shows, traditionally, present collections which are pret-a-porter (ready to wear) or haute couture. In recent years, though, this trend has changed. Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger and Nicole Miller are some of the less traditional and newer houses that have started to feature garments for immediate sale. These are termed as “see now, buy now” collections to combat fast-fashion brands duplicating styles from the runway. This trend of “see now, buy now” is being pushed by many modern fashion houses, traditional and orthodox brands and many Paris ateliers have refused to do so.
I never understood the need for these shows. If you ever peep into luxury showrooms, you will realise what you see on a runway is almost never available in the shop. A runway show is an opportunity for a brands designer to showcase their artistic talents and creativity. It also is a clever way for fashion houses to garner the interest of buyers and promote their label. The clothing you see on the runway is not for the ordinary man. The sheer valentine gowns can’t be worn by any women on the street, but a classic Valentino rock stud bag is the next best alternative. Fashion Weeks are about art and marketing. Never for a second think of them as vain and ambitious. Fashion Week is an art that inspires you to buy what a brand sells, not what you see. It’s a game they are very good at, and we are very naïve not to understand.