A mere some minutes of time is what might entail as the duration of a fashion show but these some of he most buzzed about events of the world do indeed defy the measure of time as being one of supreme importance. For even in their really short lived span on the stage, the business of fashion shows is one that stems from the enduring impact they leave upon the essential receivers of their aesthetics.
In such enormous essence that they hold as showcasers of the latest trends in and of the fashion feeding, these much fancied shows that command all attention and live through hyped up histories of them began though upon a more believable, or let’s say practical area of happening. Even without a prominence in certainty to definitely single out that one particular connoisseur of fashion who might have been the first to have this remarkable idea in presenting fashion as a whole spectacle, the validity of these shows have never summoned questions in and about their origins.
And yet even in such prevailing of the knowledge in non surety, the one often lauded for introducing the concept of shows into the wearable realm of fashion would be a someone more than legendary in his considerable some firsts upon this world. Attributed to the father of haute couture Charles Frederick Worth might also be this separate exploration of style whose English identity impressing upon Parisian soil his trailblazing ideas in fashionable pursuing has to be one of the earliest known examples that exist in the context of what can be well considered one of the first fashion shows, even when not exactly occurring as one. The founder of the 19th century fashion house named the House of Worth, this man of many measures did indeed manifest his worth within this business specific assertion of fashion shows in exactly that century of their established genesis.
What Frederick Worth devised though wouldn’t be a fashion show of the kind as what we know today in their runway identity, with models sashaying down the ramp in that definite style of catwalking displaying more often than not eccentric some outfits. For Worth, it had been the very premise of his fashion house that hosted the first of such ‘shows’, by merely shifting from one avenue of expression to another. In replacing the dolls- mannequins that is, made to showcase clothes with real humans instead wearing them in much believability of presentation for greater understanding of the fit and form of the outfits, Worth’s considerately worked out curation in the practicality of his fashion creations proved to be quite a hit. In fact so convenient did his idea prove to be that the entire House of Worth fashion salon turned into what could be well deemed a society meeting point.
Worth might not have been the only one promoting such run of fashion parades during the 1800s that were indeed periodic occurrences in many a couture salons throughout Paris. But the extent and mannerism of his doing was so consciously concentrated upon the purpose of it that garnered Worth appreciation and reputation enough to be well recognised as the father of fashion shows as well. Interestingly, there exists also another dimension to this development in idea that more than well establishes Frederick Worth as the ‘true’ mind behind the concept of fashion show. That relates to his wife Marie Vernet Worth being very often the model of her husband’s creations thus making her possibly the world’s first professional model, of whatever standing that might be. Needless to say the Worth-y assertion upon the fashion world in the form of such fashion parades stands much validated therefore.
Even outside Worth’s standalone almost identity, fashion parades tended still to be mainly a European thing with London also witnessing such showcases of designs and dresses quite often. It would be only in the 20th century that such displays of fashion by real people- read women would take over also the American expanse but still with presentations drawn out of the famed Parisian creations.
These early shows that occurred anywhere though would not be half built up on the buzz of what corresponds to the identity of fashion shows today. The approach was much private with only the designers and customers in attendance along with a handful of journalists but almost no cameras so as to ‘save’ fresh designs from being copied. It wouldn’t be until the warring events of the global scale that would come to shift the world perspective that fashion shows would also witness a change in their shape and structure of spanning. In fact it had been the breaking out of both the first as well as the second world wars that each dictated in their own specific ways the course that fashion shows would unfurl along eventually.
The year of 1918 that marked the end of the first of these global fights was when runway shows would come to be events of fixed occurrence in their scheduling. As biennial events held in department stores or hotels then, by European fashion houses in US locations aiming obviously at foreign buyers of their clothes, these shows were what also set the stage for American retailers to scout out similar paths of couture presentation.
The period of the Second World War would witness even more assertive changes work out along the run of these fashion shows as they would become events of greater public involvement. It would be along this span of the years that the noted fashion shows of the world also came to be as definite week long extravaganzas, in much ironic order of their beginnings. Even as a European conception exported to America, it still is the New York Fashion Week that came about first and foremost in such prominence. The year was 1943 and it saw what was the world’s first organized fashion week called the Press Week, ironically again created to shift attention away from the Parisian prominence of fashion. The premise though was one of requirement as well as the continuance of the war meant that fashion unfurlings across the borders could not be accessed. But there also was associated an intention in showcasing American designs and designers to fashion journalists, otherwise captivated by the European flair in dressing.
Next up would be the Paris Fashion Week that occurred in 1945 as the first such version of it, even though technically Parisian shows were the ones that had established the phenomenon of them first in Europe and then in the U.S. Quite significantly as well, the first recognized Paris Fashion Week would not come to be until 1973, exactly a decade before the London Fashion Week took shape. Prior to that the Milan Fashion Week had already been conceived in 1958, rounding up thus the Big Four of such occasions in the fashion world.
The years after the war also saw such evolution marking the fashion show as the documentation of them most essentially. A particular Paris 1947 show had designer Christian Dior introduce collection revolutionary enough in aesthetic to be dubbed ‘The New Look’ go on to chart equally revolutionary a course of change by allowing also photographers to capture the stunning assertion of his creations. Encounters like these while would not be one-off cases so as to say but still were not to be the norm yet. In fact even during the years of the 1960s photographers indeed were thought very much to be ‘spies’ waiting to leak pictures of those inventive and exclusive collections.
Very visibly then, it has been quite a process in evolution that fashion shows have turned out to be- from private events shutting out the shutterbugs to much publicised spectacles so coveting of coverage that also sees celebrities roped in with hefty fees to occupy front rows, these establishments upon the fashionable grounds have undergone a sea change indeed. And yet the gala fashion events of today tend still to be identical with the earliest versions of them across some of their encompassing elements. Particularly such showcasing of style sensibilities during the opening years of the 1900s venture closer to their contemporary versions in employment of aspects of the theatrical.
The first fashion shows of the 20th century saw rather theatrical presentations of couture, complete with narratives and themes and even performances as models did indeed had to themselves the catwalk to conquer. Not very different would be the elaborately planned and presented fashion shows of today that not only capture world attention upon their happening but also creates quite the stir upon their very anticipation.
Of course differing as well across certain aspects of their characterisation would be the concept of these shows that sees their modern day versions seek out not just set locations specifically constructed for that purpose but entire destinations altogether curated to match exactly the emotions of what has been portrayed as physical manifestations of the designers’ creativity. Particularly since the decade of the 1990s, these at once more public and more customised events have been ruling the roost in the international arena but alluding still to the same basic idea that led these spectacles to emerge at the first place. Even with shifting aspirations and updated style desires and evolving fashion sensibilities, one thing has remained constant and as basic as it has always been- the need of fashion shows being rooted in a purpose of creating visibility and by that extent demand thus of the fashion people’s deemed to be highly fashionable creations.