Fashion Weeks are events held by designers or fashion houses to display their latest designs and creations to the world’s media and fashion buyers. Catwalk shows are the mainstays of these weeks which are held around the world and which attract mass attention globally. The primary fashion weeks are held in the style capitals, London, Milan, Paris and New York, but there are many others that take place in lesser known areas of the fashion world, and are designed to draw people’s attention to less prominent designers. These include Australian Fashion Week, Japan Fashion Week, South Africa Fashion Week, and Los Angeles Fashion week. In the main fashion cities, fashion weeks are held twice a year, displaying ‘autumn’ trends and their ‘spring’ collections. These are held a long time in advance of the actual season to allow adequate coverage and previews of the designs before the actual season. This is also done to give buyers a chace to purchase the designers’ creations, and so retail stores can use elements of the designers’ styles in their mass produced clothes for the High Street market.
Fashion Weeks are attended by buyers for major stores, the media, celebrities, and members of the entertainment industry. In years gone by, fashion weeks were predominantly used as commerical events, and only people in the industry attended them. Today, however they are lavish, exclusive events, attended by many celebrities and cause a media frenzy. The week is a 7-day extravaganza which often includes live music, lavish galas and charity events. Some shows are also open to selected members of the public, as well as some of the events that display the designer’s latest handbags, jewellery, shoes, hats and cosmetics. Many important fashion design schools now feature in contemporary Fashion Weeks as well.
Fashion Weeks have been around since 1943, when the first one was held in New York to divert attention away from French fashions during the Second Worl War, when fashion industry insiders were unable to travel to Paris to see French fashion shows. Fashion publicist Eleanor Lamber staged a “Press Week” for fashion journalists to present the creations of American designers, who were not usually paid any attention by the fashion media. The buyers were not invited to these shows but instead had to visit the designers’ showrooms. Press Week was an unprecedented success, and fashion magazines like Vogue, which were normally filled with French designs, beagn increasingly to focus on American fashion.
Some beauty products sponsor fashion weeks, such as the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival and the L’Oreal Fashion Week held in Toronto, due to the inherent relationship between fashion and beauty. Other fashion weeks are held for one precise type of fashion, such as swimwear, lingerie, or bridal couture. Fashion weeks are viewed as the designer’s way of making their collections visible and broadcast throughout the world in a very short space of time. This shortens the time in which it will take for people to start recognising, buying and following the designer’s trends, which in the end is the designer’s ultimate aim.