When It All Began: The Origins of "Fashion Week"

A look at the origins of fashion shows and the birthplace of fashion week.

  • Publish date: Monday، 16 January 2023 Last update: Tuesday، 16 January 2024
When It All Began: The Origins of "Fashion Week"

It is the beginning of the year, which means the beginning of the new seasons of Fashion Week. Although Paris is considered to be the world capital of fashion, it is not the birthplace of fashion week. With all the buzz surrounding fashion week, it is good to look back to where and when the concept of fashion week originated.

When It All Began: The Origins of "Fashion Week"

Origins of Fashion Shows

When the couture industry began in 1850, Parisian designers started hosting fashion shows for exclusive clients to show off their designs. However, during this time, designs were modelled on mannequins until the 1860s, when Charles Frederick Worth began utilizing real women as models, which founded the concept of a fashion model.

In 1903, the concept of fashion shows travelled from Paris to New York when New York City shop owners Ehrich Brothers put on the first American fashion show.

Press Week in New York: The First Fashion Week

Although retailers across America hosted fashion shows, Americans were still very reliant on France which held bi-annual presentations of fashion designs. However, during World War II, American designers could not travel to Paris for inspiration. As a result, in 1943,  Eleanor Lambert launched Press Week in New York to showcase the work of American designers. Press Week is now what we all know as New York Fashion Week.

When It All Began: The Origins of "Fashion Week"

Milan Fashion Week 

Fashion week made its way to Italy through Italian entrepreneur Giovanni Battista Giorgini. He used to host fashion shows at his home in Florence, where he eventually moved to the Sala Bianca in Palazzo Pitti. In 1958, the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italia (National Chamber of Italian Fashion) was formed. This non-profit organization aimed to foreground Italian designers through their showcases and their efforts were supported by other Italian fashion houses, starting Milan Fashion Week.

Paris Fashion Week

The first Paris Fashion Week was organized by the French Fashion Federation (Fédération Française de la Couture) in 1973. Here, Eleanor Lambert produced the first fashion show at the palace of Versailles, which became known as the Battle of Versailles because it became the historical stage of fashion rivalry between the most eminent American and French designers.

London Fashion Week

In the 1970s, the idea of fashion shows became popular in London. Percy Savage—a fashion publicist—who was well-reputed for highlighting Parisian fashion brands, hosted a fashion show called ‘New Wave’ at the Ritz and some other fashion events that helped establish fashion shows in London. Despite Savage’s efforts for the fashion scene, it was the British Fashion Council that was able to launch the first London Fashion Week in 1984.

When It All Began: The Origins of "Fashion Week"

These were the origins of the Big Four fashion weeks. After the establishment of fashion week in these cities, the concept of fashion week spread to many other cities around the world such as Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam, Miami, and many others. 

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