Fashion 101: Fashion Month

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by Paige Schultz, Fashion Writer

Isaac Mizrahi once said that “you can’t be melancholy in fashion because people don’t respond to it.” Yet in 1943, a melancholic state of mind was nearly impossible to avoid.

At the time, our world was in a state of peril. We were in the midst of World War II, and French fashion, a prominent region of influence in the fashion industry, was greatly suffering since industry members were unable to travel to Paris for Fashion Week during the war.

Eleanor Lambert
Eleanor Lambert

To divert attention away from la guerre, fashion publicist, Eleanor Lambert, organized an event called “Press Week,” which showcased the talents of American designers to society. Presently, we note Press Week as New York’s first-ever Fashion Week, and praise it for its historical significance in the fashion industry. It was because of Press Week that American designers attracted the attention of fashion journalists, which lead to coverage by magazines such as Vogue, further making the event an overwhelming success. Most importantly, this week represented the innovation of American designers and demonstrated their ability to break away from Parisian influence.

Since the first “Press Week,” Fashion Week has brought extravagance and excitement to the four major fashion capitals of the world twice per year. During these times, runway shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris showcase the Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer collections of talented designers from their region.

Yet with myriad designers contending for models, locations and an audience, proper Fashion Week scheduling is essential. Thus, in order to execute Fashion Week flawlessly, industry personnel turn to the Fashion Calendar, a sacred document that has listed every Fashion Week event, from runway shows to cocktail parties, since the 1940’s. Ruth Finley, the creator of said calendar, is responsible for editing the schedule, acting as a mediator for the industry’s scheduling conflicts and the gatekeeper for designers desperately seeking an “in.”

Fashion Week, 1943
Fashion Week, 1943

But what exactly does this Fashion Calendar look like? Allow me to explain.

For womenswear, the Fall/Winter shows commence in New York in February and wrap up in March in Paris. The same is true for Spring/Summer, but the showings of these collections occur in September in NYC and conclude in October in Paris.

For menswear, Fashion Week follows a slightly different schedule. Men’s Fall/Winter shows start in January in London, occur for less than a week, and are followed by two other short weeks in Milan and Paris. Spring/Summer menswear collections are typically shown in June.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Fall/Winter shows in February and March, and Spring/Summer shows in September and October makes absolute zero sense. After all, why on earth would we want to pay attention to certain fashions and trends if they won’t be relevant to our lives for another couple of months?

The answer is simpler than you would think. Fashion Weeks are held several months in advance of the season in order to allow press and buyers a chance to preview fashion designs for the subsequent season. By generously allowing this time, retailers are able to arrange purchasing and incorporating of certain designs into their retail marketing strategies.

Thus, said timing of runway shows may not seem appropriate, but in all actuality, it is. Without proper scheduling, we wouldn’t be able to have the fashions we want for the seasons we need them for. Since its origin, Fashion Week has been known as a way for designers to showcase their innovations to society, but thanks to resources like the Fashion Calendar, we are able to take these innovations and incorporate them into our lives in the timeliest fashion possible.

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