Brief History of New York Fashion Week
New York Fashion Week started out as a competition between Paris and American fashion insiders. Originally called Press Week, the event was held in 1943 to attract attention away from French fashion during World War II. It showcased American designers for fashion journalists, and buyers were not admitted; instead, they had to visit the designers’ showrooms. In 1994, the event was moved to Bryant Park where it was held inside a series of large white tents. Admission is by invitation only, to the fashion industry, press, and celebrities. This year, the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week was moved to a new venue – Damrosch Park at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Tour of Duty: Fashion Night OutSeptember 2010 marked the first fashion week I have ever attended. As a young, emerging fashion stylist, I looked at it all with great amazement and awe. Fashion Week is more than just shows and clothes, although, it is 95% about clothes. The week is filled with happy hours, parties, shows, private events, and shopping! The first event I participated in was Fashion Night Out. Anna Wintour, long term Editor-in-Chief for Vogue Magazine, began the Night Out last year as a fashion boost given the poor economic conditions. This year, Fashion Night Out was even stronger as the community of retailers, fashion insiders, and consumers all got involved. Myself and a group of friends started our night in the flagship Macy’s at Herald Square. When I arrived, P.Diddy himself was rocking an impromptu concert from a New York City tour bus with masses swarming him. Also in attendance – designer Rachel Roy, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, and Anna Wintour – all made appearances in the Macy’s store. After joining with my crew, we all headed downtown to Soho, an indisputably central area of everything fashion in New York. There wasn’t one store that didn’t have free drinks and entertainment. Inven.tory, a sample sale boutique located on LaFayette St, featured whiskey and hemp energy drinks plus great music for its guests to shop and mingle. We made our way across the street to the high-end Burberry store. We jammed out to a live band, shoulder-to-shoulder browsing, and more champagne. The last stop on the trip was Zara, and chain retailer with a Euro twist. We managed to convince the “bartender” to give us our very own bottle of champagne as we posed for pictures and shopped. I’m not sure how many people opened their wallets, but I do know thousands of people opened their minds to the fun of fashion. The streets were flooded with people; it was a New York Halloween without the costumes.
Tour of Duty: The Shows
I don’t know how, but I managed to attend 4 shows this year. I attended two shows that were hosted as part of Elle Magazine’s Style 360 – Walter and Indashio. For a newcomer, I will say Indashio’s show stood out like no other. The collection was inspired by the designer’s “inner party monster” and you could tell. Amber Rose was one of the models that walked the runway and basketball player, Ron Artest, sat front row for the show. The show was full of color andedge; and Indashio is quite a lively and eccentric personality. I was definitely thankful to see the less conservative face of fashion.
Beauty and elegance was displayed at the Korto Momolu show hosted at Skylight West. Korto was the first runner-up in Project Runway 2009. Her collection was infused with great ready-to-wear designs in luxurious, but affordable fabrics, and it was a testimony to diversity in fashion.
Lastly, through a friend of a friend, I ended up getting tickets to a show in the tents. By the tents, I mean the tents at Lincoln Center, is where all the main events happen. This was a big deal! I went in place of a journalist that couldn’t attend to see “General Idea”, an up-and-coming label designed by Bumsuk Choi. I was able to sit second row, within a row or two from the designers that created Rag & Bone (David Neville and Marcus Wainwright) and several other important people in the industry. The fashion shows are quite inspiring and one of the few testaments that remind me why I love and live fashion.
A Long Week
It only lasts one week, but if you do the minimum of one event per day you will be exhausted. From cocktails to shows, to writing up articles about the scenery, the week can be quite tiring. As a new stylist, I felt a reaffirmation of why I left a finance career to follow my heart. Fashion is exciting, fresh, and inspiring. Fashion is like the words in the dictionary, and style is how we put those words into sentences to articulate and express ourselves. For a guy that never learned a second language, it finally feels good to check that off the list. It is always changing and recycling, it lives and breathes, and it is virtuous by default. It is the one piece of our lives that is always on display for everyone to see. Fashion week, in New York and across the globe in other fashion capitals, is huge and something special to behold. If you didn’t make it this year, I urge you to find time to take part in the future.*Justin Bridges worked in the finance industry for two years on Wall Street. This year, he decided to follow his dreams of becoming a stylist and fashion photographer. Justin is the founder of his own styling company, Tucked LLC- Style on Demand. You can view his website at Tuckedllc.com or blog at Tuckedllc.tumbler.com. Follow him on Twitter @tuckedllc