Do You Know the Secrets Behind Fashion Week?

Handbag Clinic February 20, 2021

Fashion Weeks are synonymous with high fashion and higher expectations. 

The world’s first fashion week was in New York: 1943 (to provide alternatives to European fashion when the War prohibited travel between the countries); it would be another 40 years until London curated their own catwalk in 1983! The distribution of locations allows designers to localise their shows; Chanel in France, McQueen in England and so on…

Whilst we know that the world’s largest luxury designers exhibit their collections in New York, Milan, Paris and London, do you know the secrets behind fashion week?

We expect you won’t, so top up that fizz or grab your hot choccy as we’re going to divulge the 5 secrets that we suspect you don’t know! 

Age is Just A Number:

Whilst we associate models with being youthful and lean, the oldest model to grace the catwalk for a fashion show was 81 years old!

Carmen Dell’ Orefice walked two shows in one day during the 2012 New York Fashion Week. She adorned the catwalk for Norisol Ferrari and Marimekko; thus, defying the age-old ‘requirements’ for youth.

Furthermore, the curators behind the logistics of these fashion weeks are old enough to be the model’s grandmothers. For more than 65 years, Ruth Finley mediated conflicting schedules to accommodate in-demand models and top fashion editors; ensuring that nothing critical overlapped! 

Rules Are Made to be Broken, Right?

Traditionally, female fashion shows exhibited their yearly releases every November, but this changed in 1998; as a result of high-demand and fast fashion. Instead, it was decided that there would be two shows a year, every February and September.

It may be a surprise to some, but the female/male designs are not showcased at the same time. Designers showcase menswear in January and June, to minimise design conflicts and time restrictions. 

However, with the support for slower and ultimately seasonless-fashion growing (as advocated by Gucci, YSL, Anya Hindmarch…) it is believed that womenswear & menswear will merge in order to sync gender-neutral collections! 

Designers are providing seamless ties between gendered collections, utilising the same prints/colours for both collections to ultimately draw the two closer together.

For example, the Guccissima canvas (as shown on our Marrakech Messenger below) has been utilised on the new North Face x Gucci collaboration and adorns the puffer coats, tops and accessories that are modelled by both men and women.

Furthermore, designers are capitalising on the minimalist aesthetic that continues to sweep the fashion world. Curating items in one colour tone, with multiple straps (exemplified by the YSL Museum Laptop case below); allowing variation in wear and ultimately widening the audience appeal. 

No Paps Please! 

Much to our surprise (living in the visually saturated world that we do) cameras were traditionally banned at Fashion weeks until 1947! 

They were perceived to be strictly guarded affairs that provided exclusive experiences for the attendees. It was believed that it would dilute the grandeur of the collections if they were captured for all to see. 

After the war ended in 1945, fashion weeks became more regulated and ultimately more relaxed. It would be another two years though, until Christian Dior allowed his Corolle collection to be the first to be captured on film. 

Talking of Dior, our office favourites have to be the Diorever in black leather or the Be Dior Double Flap Bag, that hosts the iconic Lady Dior handles! Both items (pictured below) possess the feminine but practical qualities that Christian worked hard to curate in the 1950s/60s.

Can you imagine a fashion week nowadays where you’re prohibited from using your phone or camera? 

It’s Not Always Smooth Sailing

Streakers regularly invade the catwalk of the most famous shows. 

Whether they’re protesting the use of fur by painting their naked bodies or throwing Tofu pies at front row audience members, they make their presence known and disrupt the status quo! 

However, do you know the secret protest that happened in 2020 by a brands own models? 

Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection featured white rigid tailoring that some models felt represented institutional suppression in the form of mental health patients. The model, Tan Jones, along with others, wrote ‘Mental Health isn’t Fashion’ across their palms, which they kept raised throughout their walk. 

Jones stated that the ‘presentation of these struggles as props for selling clothes in today’s capitalist climate is vulgar, unimaginative and offensive to the millions of people around the world affected by these issues.’

This was Gucci’s first ever ready-to-wear collection that was resultantly fragmented, due to the creative director retracting the ‘uniforms’ from being purchased. 

The Show Must Go On!

Before 2020 (and the global pandemic that we’re still navigating our way through) the international fashion shows had never been cancelled, except for once in 2001. 

It’s incredible that for 78 years, shows spanning 4 countries twice a year managed to go ahead in spite of wars, illnesses, political disruptions. 

This was until September 2001 and the attack on the World Trade Centres: New York. 

Respectively, after the upheaval and heartbreak caused by this attack, the New York A/W Fashion Week didn’t go ahead as it was due to start just days after the incident. 

So, now you know the little-known secrets behind fashion weeks! Please comment below if you’re aware of anymore… 

This week welcomes the 78th Year of fashion shows for New York and the 38th for London. Styles, models and themes may have changed but our interest in their cult collections remains as high as ever! 

We can’t wait to see what each designer has in store for us and in the meantime, encourage you to indulge in our New Arrivals


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