Bring together the world’s top designers, celebrities, magazine editors, models and the generally glamorous and you’ve got New York Fashion Week. That amount of fabulousness in one place and time is surely only rivaled by a phenomenon like Cannes or the Oscars. So how did the stars align to create such a prestigious event? Here’s a look at the stylish evolution of New York Fashion Week:
WHAT IS NEW YORK FASHION WEEK: New York Fashion Week happens bi-annually in February and September. Sixty-nine designers showed at the February 2014 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein and Proenza Schouler. Business Insider estimated that the average runway show cost $460,000. That’s $46,000 or more a minute when you consider that a typical show runs 10-20 minutes! But designers are notorious for being behind schedule, as they style and primp their models to perfection backstage -- which means preshow is an event in itself with A-listers and fashion insiders rubbing elbows, exchanging air kisses or posing for the press, while waiting for the designs to appear on the catwalk.
HOW NEW YORK FASHION WEEK BEGAN: Before 1943, Paris was the epicenter of the fashion world. But Publicist Eleanor Lambert and World War II changed all that. In 1943, the war in France prevented American fashion journalists from traveling to Paris to cover the bi-annual fashion shows. Lambert seized the opportunity and created an event called Press Week in New York City to showcase the work of American designers. The first Press Week consisted of 53 designers presenting their collections at the Plaza Hotel. The event was a huge success. Editors from magazines like Vogue gave their stamp of approval and featured American designers in the issues following Press Week. New York City was on the map alongside fashion capital Paris.
CFDA: Press Week ran until the late 50s. A more loosely-knit New York Fashion Week followed. Designers continued to stage their own shows without a coordinated location. All of that changed in 1993, when Fern Mallis of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) brought designers together under the tents of Bryant Park for a week-long, consolidated event called “7th on 6th”. The 7th in the title referred to Seventh Avenue, which is the avenue on which a bulk of the garment district is located, and 6th referred to Sixth Avenue, one of the avenues on which Bryant Park is situated in Manhattan.
IMG: In 2001, CFDA sold 7th on 6th to IMG.
MERCEDES-BENZ AND IMG JOIN FORCES: In 2007, Mercedes Benz became the official sponsor of IMG’s events and the tents of Bryant Park become the place to see and be seen in New York City with designers such as Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger and Rebecca Minkoff showing their collections to star-studded audiences.
MERCEDES-BENZ AND IMG MOVE TO LINCOLN CENTER: By the 2009 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week season, Bryant Park was bursting at the seams. The event had become so popular that the park couldn’t contain the sheer numbers descending upon it twice a year. Besides the usual A-listers showing up to attend the events, growing crowds of paparazzi, press, and fashion junkies were hanging around outside the tents in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a favorite designer or celebrity. The decision was made to move Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to Lincoln Center in 2010. The new venue provided New York Fashion Week with 30% more space, as well as digital check-ins and free Wi-fi, and a location big enough to feature both established and emerging designers.
LEXUS AND WME-IMG -- A NEW NEW YORK FASHION WEEK: The September 2015 New York Fashion Week is upon us! The events start tomorrow with a completely reinvented look and feel. Lincoln Center hosted its last show in February 2015, following a New York Supreme Court decision that displaced the event from the venue. The Court ruled in favor of the Parks Department of New York City, who sued Lincoln Center for the right to determine use of the space. Since the ruling, the space has become a park, and there are presently no plans for New York Fashion Week to return to Lincoln Center. Meanwhile, IMG was acquired by William Morris in 2014, who renamed the company WME-IMG. Then, in August, WME-IMG announced that Lexus would replace Mercedes-Benz as the event’s sponsor. So it’s a new New York Fashion Week. What will the September show look like? Here’s what we know: the event has a decidedly downtown feel with locations at Skylight at Moynihan Station, Skyline Clarkson Square and MADE at Milk Studios. Over 60 designers, including Derek Lam, Betsey Johnson and Badgley Mischka, are scheduled to show collections this week.
A full list of events is available at NYFW. Happy New York Fashion Week, fashionistas! Let the games begin!