The semi-annual New York Fashion Week, branded Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 2009, is held in February and September of each year in New York City. It is one of four major fashion weeks held around the world (along with those in Paris, London, and Milan).
The first New York Fashion Week, then called Press Week, was the world's first organized fashion week. Held in 1943, the event was designed to attract attention away from French fashion during World War II, when fashion industry insiders were unable to travel to Paris to see French fashion shows. Fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert organized an event she called "Press Week" to showcase American designers for fashion journalists, who had previously neglected their innovations. (Buyers were not admitted to the shows and instead had to visit designers' showrooms.) Press Week was a success, and fashion magazines like Vogue, which were normally filled with French designs, increasingly featured American fashion.
In 1994, the event was moved to its current site in Bryant Park, where it is held inside a series of large white tents in the almost-block-long park. Admission is by invitation only, to the fashion industry, fashion press, assorted celebrities, and internet based Fashion press (e.g. District L, Fashionista, FWD). Beginning in February 2009 (showing Fall 2009), many designers opted out of their usual Bryant Park tent fashion shows because of the current economy and held smaller presentations.
At the Fall 2009 Fashion Week the public got a taste of technology as it is shaping the future of fashion. It is not only making it cheaper and easier for designers to create their collections, it is also saving them travel time as many broadcast their lines over the Internet. Many designers opted to not only market online but also sell exclusively online. Designer Norma Kamali and the Polo Ralph Lauren Rugby brand both have an application for the Apple iPhone. In the Vivienne Tam show, models walked the runway carrying Hewlett Packard mini notebook computers instead of the expected handbag.
Because of the recession affecting most of the world, designers were stepping outside of the box for fall 2009. In previous years, fashion houses would be expecting costs up to $750,000 to produce a quality runway show. The idea of using mannequins to display clothing was used by established designers Betsey Johnson and Vera Wang as a way to cut model and runway costs. Mara Hoffman, Sergio Davila and Nicholas K saved 40 percent of their costs by combining their separate lines into one show. Another trend seen during fall 2009 Fashion Week was recession friendly fashion. A number of pieces displayed were items that could be worn in the fall and carry over to the spring. A popular staple was bold color dressed that could be worn over a turtleneck in colder weather and stand alone in the spring; convertible blazers were introduced by Vera Wang and Karen Walker as a way to get double the wear out of one piece.
Due to increasing pressure from Bryant Park management, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will be hosted in Damrosch Park at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for the first time starting in September 2010.
Yigal Azrouel runway show at satellite venue, Spring 2008 New York Fashion Week
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is perhaps the most well-known event held during New York Fashion Week, but not the only one. Many top-name designers show their collections at other venues, including Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs. Dozens of other fashion shows and related events are held around the city during New York Fashion Week, including Couture Fashion Week NY at the Waldorf-Astoria and iFashion Week by iFashion Network and iConcept Media Group focusing on emerging and independent designers.
2011 Fall/Winter Fashion Week
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz Fall Fashion week collection will be showcased starting the second week of February and will be held at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. The location change to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has increased the space by 17,000 square feet. However, the location change is still receiving mixed reviews.
The event features designers from around the world including Vivienne Tam, a Chinese born designer.
There initially appeared to be a trend towards darker and more sombre designs.