PART1: The rise of the fashion week
Its 1848, this is Paris and Charles Frederick Worth (The Father of Haute Couture) is doing something ground breaking. He is paying a shop girl to demonstrate how shawls should be worn. Her name was Marie Vernet and she was the world’s very first live model.
In 1885 some uncredited wise-ass decided to print an illustrated book, depicting four women modelling fashions. That was the world’s first introduction to "Art et la Mode" or “The Lookbook”.
In 1943, PR Maven Eleanor Lambert did something truly revolutionary. At the Plaza Hotel in New York City Lambert invited a press and buyer corps to a slew of ‘fashion Parades’ from Americas brightest design stars. She made it obligatory that the buyers had to view the pieces in show THEN visit the respective showrooms to conduct business. She called this “Press Week.
But Eleanor wasn’t quite finished yet.
In 1965 she organized a full fashion show of various American designers at the New York World’s fair, pulling an estimated audience of 1 million people. This was the swinging sixtys and New York Fashion Week was born. The Germans occupying France in 1940 was America’s hail Mary to run in on the then scattered attention of the editors and buyers. Without the anxiety of French influence the American designers began to push the envelope with indigenous materials and techniques, revolutionizing and cementing American style in the history of fashion. It is because of this that many may agree when I say that Fashion Week in its earliest incarnation was, in some sense, a bid to overthrow the sartorial tyranny of the French. Thanks America.
Between then and 2010 the CFDA’s Fern Mallis decided to fill Bryant Park with big white tents in 1993. The collections showed were for spring 1994 and so, seasonal shows were born.
In 2000 style.com decided to publish instant photograph documentation to the World Wide Web. Filming shows and publishing them on television and online then became a thing, a big thing, a huge thing – ever heard of Fashion TV?
In 2009 the going rate to host a show in the main Bryant Park tent was one million American dollars. A year later the standard Fashion show averaged only 10 minutes long (that’s $100,000 a minute). In 2010, NY Fashion Week said goodbye to Bryant Park and hello to Lincoln Centre.
For the Past 5 years world Fashion weeks, I mean actual fashion weeks, has continued to make strides as is customary; capitalising on talented designers, enchanting models and the changing times. While in Jamaica; front rows are still filled with sponsors, models are still unpaid and fashion bloggers are still standing in a corner of some random venue crying on the inside filled with regret, shame and disappointment. Stay with me on this very wordy blog series where I aim to correct the miseducation of the Jamaican ‘fashion industry’ - common f, common i.