Taking in the iconic words of Frank Sinatra, “New York is a hell of a town.” New York Fashion Week is as much part of the cultural landscape as is opera season, the Thanksgiving parade, and now, Ryan Seacrest hosting New Year’s Eve!
As Frankie also said, “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere”, Fashion Week New York is one of the big players now and makes household names of the fashion designers who show their collections here for the world to enjoy. Let’s not forget that the U.S. invented sportswear, or should we say prêt-à-porter, or ready-to-wear? Yes my friends, what the United States introduced a century ago is still being done around the world today.
What made (and still makes) American fashion special is the practicality of the designs. Presenting items that can be mixed with older and newer ones, be they from the same designers or not, is rather revolutionary… and frankly brilliant.
Fashion design pioneers like Claire McCardell revolutionized the industry in the 1950s by introducing softer [less-constructed] pieces that draped well and changed silhouette drastically with the application of a belt or another garment. “Easy to wear” is nothing new, just check out the British designer Jean Muir in the 1970s or even Donna Karan and Calvin Klein in the 1980s… McCardell rocked it then and still influences today. Anne Klein even took it another step by designing collections of ‘separates.’
One of the reasons New York Fashion Week hit the ground running was post-WWII American consumer purchase power, which was unparalleled and turned American department stores like Bloomingdale’s, Bonwit Teller, Henri Bendel, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue, to name a few, into strong partners that helped redefine New York’s fashion influence and Fashion Week in the process.
Aside form designers and retailers, New York also catered to established boutiques that purchased looks from fashion designers in Europe as well as New York, and just like some department stores did, they reinterpreted them for clients –think of it as an early License Agreement. Even Jacqueline Kennedy often purchased in such places, her iconic pink “Chanel-looking” suit she wore in Dallas was actually by Upper East Side favorite boutique, Chez Ninon (the hat was, of course, by Halston via Bergdorf Goodman).
Watch for still more on the history of New York Fashion Week!
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