الخميس، 24 سبتمبر، 2009

The Big 4

The Big 4

There are four major Fashion Weeks, New York, London, Milan and Paris. I was curious what the differences were between the four. What is the primary focus of each one? And what is the history of fashion weeks, or fashion shows, in general?

The definition of a fashion week is as follows: "A fashion week is a fashion industry event, lasting approximately one week, which allows fashion designers or "houses" to display their latest collections in runway shows and buyers to take a look at the latest trends."
"Fashion weeks can be huge generators of revenue. Many are tied to the tourism industry, but local designers benefit by getting a chance to show their wares to global buyers."


The original New York Fashion Week was started in 1943 when France was occupied by Germany during WWII, and buyers, journalists, etc. could not fly to Paris to view the collections. In response to this problem, "Press Week" was held to showcase American designers (above). Press Week also allowed American designers to depart from the constant comparison to French couture houses and to break away from relying on inspiration from the French.


New York Fashion Week used to follow Europe chronologically, but it has been moved up so the shows take place before the European ones. In general, New York is the business-fashion capital: it's about business, money, and it's commercial, less about the aesthetic. Think Calvin Klein (above), Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren. The designers are there to SELL CLOTHES. Because of the commercial possibilities, some European designers have shows in New York.

Paris is considered more purely aesthetic, despite the high cost of the shows. The famed French couture houses are certainly on the decline. By 2004, there were only
9 top tier couture houses: Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Gaultier, Lacroix, Mori, Sirop, Scherrer and Torrente. Valentino was a second tier member, although not located in France. Interestingly enough, in late January 2005, Italian Giorgio Armani decided to show in Paris.


Today, the list of haute couture designers includes some new names such as
Stephane Rolland (above), and Paris Fashion Week has also expanded from haute couture to ready-to-wear names such as and includes Balenciaga (below), Balmain, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent. Many of the couture designers show refined collections, but you also find flamboyant shows such as John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. The complete list for the upcoming Spring 2010 Paris shows is here: http://www.modeaparis.com/va/collections/2010eppap/index.html


London is less commercial and more artistic, and in my opinion, the most interesting and creative. London is the place to view up-and-coming designers such as Erdem, Jeremy Scott, Josh Goot, and my personal favorite, Mary Katrantzou, below. The proximity of Central St. Martin's certainly has an effect on the creativity flowing into the London shows.


Milan is about status, luxury, and prestige. It's about the Italian glamorous lifestyle, with some exceptions. Think Armani, Gucci, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Bottega Veneta, and Fendi. Roberto Cavalli is great example of a flashy Italian brand – full of sequins and sex appeal.

The list of designers at each show is constantly in flux, and they move around whenever they feel like it. For instance, Alexander McQueen is really a London boy, but he shows in Paris. And that could probably change at any time. For the most part, though, New York is commercial, Paris is couture, London is artsy, and Milan is status.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:00:00 PM - Link

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