Fashion and the endless search for my personal style have been part of my life for quite some time. For most of my teenage years I didn’t really care about brands and did most of my shopping at H&M, Zara and Bershka. I didn’t care that the fast fashion brands were stealing the designs from high fashion labels and recreated the looks with cheap fabric. Back then I got excited about every single new collection they dropped, without being aware that it is in fact quite weird, that fast fashion brands drop a new line every few weeks. When Instagram became a thing everyone used, I also found the platform that helped my figure out what fashion is actually about and who the important labels and designers out there are.
Obviously I was aware of the existence of Fashion Weeks and thanks to many great Influencers I knew that there were certain fashion months. But I also realised that there were other shows happening apart from those fashion months. They all had different names like cruise, resort and houte couture but I never really knew the difference. Most fashion students would probably laugh at me for not knowing the basics, but I’d like to believe that there are other fashion lovers out there, that would like to know more and are not learning anything about it in school. So I decied to write down what I know. Here we go…
Usually when someone talks about the fashion months they mean feburary and september where the designers present the upcoming womens spring/summer and fall/winter collections. Whereas The major menwear shows take place in januray/february and in june/july. In general the shows take place 6 months before the clothes are available in stores, to give the audience a preview of upcoming trends. Because the industry is following the reteial cycle, in-season collections and pre-fall collections are becoming a thing.
As an addition to the regular shows the Houte Couture week takes place once every year in Paris. Houte couture means “high fashion” and the collections consist of one-of-a-kind garments, that can each take up to 700 hours to make. Because the pieces are so unique, the shows are filled with clients with big chequebooks ready to snap that perfect gown. In total there are only 14 designers who bear the label of haute couture. Couture week is known for being very opulent, glamorous and decadent. The sets are made to show off the incredible work that was put into the collection. The world of haute couture might not be accesible for the average consumer, but it shows us over an over again just how creative designers are.
There is also a thing called resort shows, or as they say in europe “cruise”. The shows show collections of summer clothes, that were supposed to drop in winter. This might sound a little strange, but traditionally the rich used to spend their winters somewhere warm and thus “resort” was born. Literaly a collection for the rich, so they wont have to spend their winter without some new, exclusive outfits by Dior, Chanel or Gucci. Opposed to the regular Fahion Weeks the Resort is very exclusive and only a handful of press and influencers are invited.
The “Big 4”
Fashion Week usually takes place in 4 different cities, these being New York, London, Milan and Paris and within the fashion months the fashion weeks take place in exactly that order. Now let’s talk a little bit about the reason why these 4 cities are so relevant for the industry.
- New York: The big Apple, the City that never sleeps… call it whatever you like, but New York is also the City where (to my surprise) the first Fashion Week took place. Although back in 1943 it had nothing to do with what we know today. At first it also wasn’t called Fashion Week. The showings back then took place during the so called “press week”. The original idea was to give american designers a platform to show their clothers during the second world war. Traditionally designers presented their clothes to the buyers and press in Paris, but because france was occupied by the germans, the american industry had to come up with something different. Press week used to alsways take place at Plaza Hotel. It wasn’t until 1994 that the name was changed to New York Fashion Week and not only press and buyers got invited. Also the event was relocated to Bryant Park and it stayed there until the shows got too popular and crowded. For a few years New York was the last of the Big 4 to present, until Helmut Lange simply decided to show his collection 6 weeks before everyone else and Calvin Klein tagged along. That small act of rebellion led to New York now being the first to present the upcoming trends.
- London: Fashion Week in London might not be the most popular one, but considering how many great designers come from england, it should never be underestimated. The London Fashion Week first took place in 1983 and was organized by the british fashion council. Nowadays it is the second city to present right after New York. London Fashion Week gave new designers like John Galliano, Alexander McQueen or Stella McCartney a platform to debute. Even the Model Kate Moss was seen first on a London Runway. Maybe one of the biggest accomplishments was for London to get the british label Burberry back, who showed their new collections in Paris for quite some time.
- Milan: Italy had a bit of a hard time choosing their fashion metropolis mainly because the whole country has a huge legacy in crafts, fabrics and luxury goods. The Milan Fashion Week was established in 1958 by the Chamber of Italian Fashion. Nowadays Milan Fashion Week is super popular, relevant and many of the greatest designers present their knew collections. During Fashion Week the streets of the city turn into the runways. Many shows are even open for the public and take place in traditional old Palazzos. Some of the big events are the Prada, Gucci and Versace shows that re always something special.
- Paris: Last but not least the french capital, the epicentre of fahions, the city of haute couture (we now know what that is). Paris Fashion Week was basicaly an answer in 1945 to the press week in New York. All haute couture houses had to hold seasonal shows with at least 35 night and day pieces. But it was not until Christian Dior presented his first show that the focus was finally put on Paris as the fashion capital. Another very important event was so called Battle of Versailles in 1973, which was the first event where american and french labels showed their collections at the same time. Lables like Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Oscar de la Renta were part of the so called battle. Today Paris is the grand final to the fashion months with the most impressive and dramatic shows.
I hope some of you might have also learned something new while reading this. If I missed anything please let me know, I am always open to learn more from anyone that knows more. Also I would really like to know which fashion shows are the most excitig ones to you? I personally always get really excited about Copenhagen Fashion Week, but I’ll talk about that in a different post.