Saturday, September 10, 2016


By Eva Fydrych

'The Big Four'

Photos courtesy of ShopAlike

With New York Fashion Week currently underway, let's have a look at the most iconic moments in fashion week history.

The most important events are held in the fashion capitals of the world, commonly called the 'Big Four': New York, London, Milan, and Paris, and they receive the majority of press coverage. According to Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, there won't be another fashion capital anytime soon. 

"I think four cities [New York, Milan, London, Paris] is already too much for editors to trek out to four times a year," said Steele. "But I think if there is going to be a fifth capital, it will be virtual."


The first U.S. fashion show, 'Press Week', was held in 1943. It was the offspring of fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert. Her vision was to put more spotlight on American designers who in prior years had been ignored by fashion journalists. The occurrence of WWII meant that Paris was momentarily out of the fashion game, leaving New York to take the lead. 

Key moments from New York Fashion Week (Photo courtesy of

  • In 2003, founder Eleanor Lambert, made her last appearance at fashion week, one month after her 100th birthday. She died in October of the same year.
  • Isaac Mizrahi sent the ultimate accessory, cotton-candy dyed poodles, down the runway in 2011.
  • In 2014, Dr. Danielle Sheypuk became the first woman in wheelchair to make her modelling debut on NYFW, followed by the first runway model with Down syndrome, Jamie Brewer.
  • Lady Gaga walked in Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2016 show at the Park Avenue Armory.

Photo courtesy of Marc Jacobs / Instagram

"The celeb rocked an oversize coat with fur sleeves over a pussy-bow blouse and extreme platform boots. Her makeup and hair seemingly channeled a 1920s flapper, with her newly dyed platinum blonde styled in roaring waves and dark lined eyelids which added to her raven lips." -

  • In September 2016, many designers at NYFW are already embracing the change that the digital era has paved the way for. Read the recent article by Suzy Menkes here.


The first official fashion week was hosted in 1984 in London.

London (Photo courtesy of Click to enlarge

  • Just like an ordinary fashion design graduate, Stella McCartney had her BFFs modelling for her graduate show, including already famous supermodel Kate Moss in 1995.
  • In one of the most memorable moments at Alexander McQueen's runway shows, two robots spray-painted a dress worn by Canadian model Shalom Harlow. You can watch the video from his Spring/Summer 1999 show here.

Spray painting robots at Alexander McQueen SS 1999 (Photo courtesy of Marie Claire UK)

  • In 2005, PETA anti-fur protesters interrupted a Julien MacDonald show on the runway.
  • Vivienne Westwood, the British avant-garde fashion icon, was made Dame of the British Empire by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in 2006.
  • One of LFW’s most remarkable debuts ever, Christopher Kane burst onto the fashion radar with his Spring/Summer 2007 collection of elastic-bandage mini dresses. He managed to bring the fluoro trend back to mainstream.

Christophe Kane SS 2017 (Photos courtesy of

  • Topshop will offer select pieces from its 'September 2016 collection' for sale immediately after the presentation during London Fashion Week on Sunday, 18 September. The rest of the collection will become available in November. 
  • Right after their September show, Burberry’s stock and window displays will change overnight, so customers can immediately buy whatever caught their eye. Welcome to the 'see now, buy now' fashion revolution!

"Over 30 years on from its debut, London Fashion Week is still a breeding ground for the world’s boldest and most cutting-edge designers. From Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, to Simone Rocha and Christopher Kane, we’ve produced some of the planet’s most covetable fashion brands and (with the help of clever schemes like NEWGEN and Fashion East in place) we’re already nurturing the next generation of IT Brit labels." - Marie Claire UK


In a controversial show in 1967, the Missoni family freed their models' nipples on the Florence runway. Critics dubbed it 'Missoni's Crazy Whore Collection' and the family was banned from the Pitti Uomo event. The solution? They decided to move their show to Milan and the fashion world soon followed.

Key fashion moments from Milan (Photo courtesy of

  • The original supermodels, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, created one of the most iconic moments in Milan Fashion Week history when they walked arm in arm down the Versace Fall/Winter runway in 1991.

Nineties supermodels at Versace show (Photo courtesy of Rex Features)

  • Few took notice of a certain green dress when it debuted on the Donatella Versace runway in 2000. That was before J.Lo. rocked the now iconic dress and took the world by storm.
  • Dolce & Gabbana's motherhood-themed Fall/Winter 2015 show featured models carrying babies. Six months later, at their Spring/Summer 2016 show, models took selfies straight from the runway creating a lot of social media buzz again.

Dolce & Gabbana SS 2016 (Photo courtesy of KMS Australia)


Although the first fashion week took place in New York City, the event itself derives from 'defiles de mode' (literally 'fashion parades') held in Paris couture salons. Jeanne Paquin was the first designer to make her showings public and Paul Poiret was the first one to host parties after his events.

The first recognized Paris Fashion Week was organised in 1973 as a fundraiser to restore the Palace of Versailles. Both American and French designers attended the event including: Anne Klein, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta, Hubert de Givenchy, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Paris Fashion Week (Photo courtesy of

  • Naomi Campbell fell down on the catwalk while wearing Vivienne Westwood platform shoes in 1993.

Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania show, March 1993 (Photo courtesy of Rex USA)

  • As a result of Kate Moss' cocaine scandal, longtime friend Alexander McQueen showed his support during the finale of his Autumn/Winter 2006 collection (shown in Paris) with a haunting hologram of the supermodel.

"For Lee [Alexander McQueen], his shows were pure theatre and that was exhilarating,” said Hector MacLeod who was involved in creating the hologram. “The atmosphere and buzz when the show happened was amazing."

Kate Moss hologram, ‘Widows of Culloden’ show in Paris (Photo by Getty Images)

  • A lover of fashionable tech, Hussein Chalayan, constructed futuristic robotic dresses for his Spring/Summer 2007 show in Paris. He wowed the audience with five designs that moved on their own and automatically transformed in shape and style.

Hussein Chalayan Spring/Summer 2017 (Photos by Getty Images)

  • In 2012, Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld surprised the crowd with his new Chanel beach bag/hula hoop invention. The media went crazy for it, but the practicality of the bag was questioned.

"It's for the beach, "Lagerfeld told the Daily Telegraph after the show. "You need space for the beach towel. And then you can put it into the sand and hang things on it."

Chanel Spring/Summer 2013 (Photo courtesy of Sevelina)

  • Chanel staged its own supermarket which opened briefly during fashion week in 2014. Shoppers included Rihanna, Cara Delevingne, and Kendall Jenner. All the real food displayed was donated to charity after the show.
  • In 2015, Rick Owen's male models went down the runway pants-free, creating a heap of not-safe-for work full-frontal pictures.

Fashion Futures lecture in Mexico City, April 2016 (Photo by Eva Fydrych)

"Fashion today is totally global," said Diane von Furstenberg in an interview for Elle magazine in May 2016. "We already have fashion weeks all over the world now. But what does fashion week really mean anymore? That is kind of debatable."

"Everybody is surfing the tsunami, wondering 'How are we gonna live?'" she said. "Nobody really knows and everybody has to adapt."

And after all maybe that unpredictability and fast-paced evolvement of fashion is what makes it truly exciting?


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