Fashion Weeks are one of the most exciting events in the fashion industry where designers showcase their latest collections. These events are typically organised twice yearly by major fashion capitals like New York, London, Milan Italy, and Paris, and have expanded to various cities worldwide. It’s a glamorous affair that draws in fashion enthusiasts, editors, buyers, celebrities, and influencers.
During Fashion Weeks, both established designers and emerging designers showcase their creativity through runway shows, where models strut down catwalks wearing the latest trends in ready-to-wear and haute couture. As a semi-annual event, it features spring-summer and fall-winter collections, inspiring designers and enthusiasts for every season and raising brand awareness.
It’s safe to say that fashion weeks around the world create a buzz by setting the stage for what’s “in” for the upcoming seasons. Come along as we dive into the colourful, ever-changing dynamics of fashion weeks all over the world.
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Fashion Weeks are divided into two main fashion seasons—Spring/Summer (SS) and Fall/Winter (FW) seasons. In February, designers unveil their Fall/Winter creations, and come September, it’s all about Spring/Summer vibes.
In addition to the main seasons, there are inter-seasonal collections like Pre-Fall and Resort/Cruise collections, and fashion weeks based on clothing types like Bridal and Swimwear.
Ready-to-Wear Fashion Week happens around February/March for fall and September for spring, when major fashion week dates are set. Like your go-to fashion store, what you see on the runway is what you can buy and wear soon after. The clothes are made for everyone, with standard sizes, and most of them are ready to hit the stores.
Haute Couture Week takes place in January for spring and June/July for fall, with Paris being the sole host. “Haute Couture” means high-end dressmaking, and the clothes are over-the-top and made to order. Think runway outfits that are more like art pieces than everyday wear.
Menswear Week started in 2012, giving men their own fashion moment. It’s in January for fall and June for spring, showcasing ready-to-wear collections just for men. Before this, most fashion shows focused more on women’s clothes. Now we can expect standout menswear red carpet looks and street fashion from these shows.
Resort/Cruise collections, also known as Pre-Spring, unfold in May and June. It originally showcased lightweight and bright tropical clothing for affluent winter vacationers heading to sunny locations. Now it includes coats and winter wear for those heading to ski resorts.
Pre-fall happens in late summer and helps us transition between seasons. It’s a sneak peek of what’s coming up and a bit more commercial. These interseasonal shows set the trends and get us excited for what’s in store in major fashion seasons.
Events like NY Bridal Week and Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week are a big deal for weddings, coming twice a year in April and October. It’s where you see the latest in wedding fashion, from gowns to suits.
In mid-July, Miami Swim Week shows off swimsuits and beachwear. It’s a huge deal for the swimwear industry, with SwimShow being the main platform where everyone checks out the newest trends.
Aspiring to be part of the fashion circuit, major cities and regions globally host their own International Fashion Weeks. This includes, among many others:
The “Big Four” Fashion Weeks refer to the major fashion events that take place in four of the world’s leading fashion capitals: New York, London, Milan Italy, and Paris.
Each of these Fashion Weeks plays an important role in shaping global fashion trends. The events also contribute significantly to the economies of their respective cities, attracting international visitors, media attention, and business transactions.
New York Fashion Week typically kicks off the fashion calendar in February and September each year, showcasing the collections for the upcoming fall/winter and spring/summer seasons, respectively.
Known for its emphasis on commercial viability and diverse styles, NYFW attracts a blend of high fashion and street style, embracing innovation and experimentation. It incorporates a mix of high-end luxury brands and more accessible, ready-to-wear designers.
London Fashion Week follows NYFW and is known for its avant-garde and experimental approach to fashion. It often includes cutting-edge runway shows, designer showrooms for emerging talents, and presentations of innovative designs.
London is celebrated for fostering creativity and pushing the boundaries of traditional fashion. With its avant-garde spirit, the LFW showcases creations from Alexander McQueen, whose legacy of innovation and craftsmanship continues to inspire, and other emerging UK designers like Nensi Dojaka, Christopher Kane, Yuhan Wang, Erdem, and JW Anderson, who all contribute to the city’s reputation for innovation.
Milan Fashion Week is renowned for its focus on luxury and high-end fashion. Milan, Italy is a hub for luxury brands, and MFW reflects this with opulent runway shows and presentations.
Synonymous with craftsmanship and elegance, Italian fashion shines with the brilliance of luxury brands like Gucci, led by creative director Alessandro Michele, and Prada, known for its intellectual and boundary-pushing designs.
MFW events are known for their emphasis on accessories, particularly shoes and handbags.
Paris Fashion Week concludes the Big Four Fashion Weeks, taking place in late February to March and late September to October. It is considered the pinnacle of the fashion calendar, featuring some of the most prestigious and influential designers in the world.
It is also known for its grandeur, with iconic venues like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower for the shows.
Paris Fashion Week (PFW) is considered the most important fashion event globally, thanks to its long history of contributing significant moments to the fashion industry. Famous fashion brands use PFW to show off their latest collections and make a big impact on the global stage.
The first Paris Fashion Week, the way we know it today, happened in 1973. The French Fashion Federation organised it, with help from Eleanor Lambert, the founder of NYFW. This occasion was special because it was the first time they brought together haute couture or high fashion, prêt-à-porter or ready-to-wear, and menswear collections all in one place in Paris.
The very first Paris Fashion Week in 1973 started with “The Battle of Versailles” as a fundraiser to renovate the Palace of Versailles. French designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior went head-to-head with American designers like Anne Klein and Halston. Surprisingly, American designers won over Paris with the most groundbreaking collections.
Paris may not have started the whole fashion week thing, but it was the city that introduced the idea of fashion parades or “défilés de mode.” Shop owners would hire women to wear their designs in public spaces, kind of like the early version of a fashion show.
Paris is also the only fashion capital with a fashion week dedicated just to Haute Couture, in addition to the regular collections. Haute couture shows in Paris have been happening since 1945, showing off the city’s commitment to making clothes with diverse skills and elegance.
In 1947, Christian Dior’s first fashion show in Paris introduced the famous “New Look,” a collection named Corolle that created a big sensation in the fashion scene.
In 1998, Yves Saint Laurent put on a runway show in a stadium just an hour before the soccer World Cup final between France and Brazil. Imagine 300 models, 900 people working behind the scenes, 4,000 stadium staff, and an audience of about 1.7 billion people around the world.
As part of NYFW 2023, Dreamland Fashion Week in Central Park made history by breaking the Guinness World Record for “The Largest Attendance at a Fashion Show.”
Surpassing the record set at Moscow Fashion Week in 2018, with more than 3,000 attendees, the event took place on September 9 at Rumsey Playfield. Unlike traditional fashion events, this show was open to the public, not just industry insiders.
The standout moment was the full-length runway presentation by LA-based designer Marco Marco, marking his return after a five-year hiatus. Diverse models showcased iconic outfits from his collection. And, attendees not only witnessed the runway spectacle but also enjoyed live performances, interactive art installations, pop-up shops, and collaborations with artists.
Dreamland Fashion Week aimed to redefine the concept of Fashion Week by merging art, culture, and self-expression. It broke barriers, challenged norms, and promoted inclusivity. The organisers also gave back, with a portion of the proceeds, to the City Parks Foundation, to support community programs and activities in parks across NY City.
The major Fashion Weeks, collectively known as the “big four” — New York, London, Milan Italy, and Paris — follow a specific order. Let’s break down each major event:
The OG Fashion Week born in 1943, New York Fashion Week kicks off the “big four” every February and September. Organised by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the show used to go down in Manhattan but switched to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in 2010.
Put together by the British Fashion Council, the London Fashion Week unfolds right after New York, often at 180 The Strand.
Hot on the heels of London, Milan Fashion Week graces various spots across Milan’s historic centre. It is orchestrated by the National Chamber for Italian Fashion.
Hosted by the French Fashion Federation, Paris Fashion Week takes the grand finale of the “big four,” usually at the Grand Palais and Carrousel du Louvre.
For fashion enthusiasts, stay in the loop by checking official city websites for the latest Fashion Week dates. Regional and city shows from South Africa to Italy, South Korea, the Dominican Republic, and Copenhagen Fashion Week also provide updates through their official sites. Designers also spill the tea on their social media, giving you the inside scoop on upcoming fashion weeks and other events.
In essence, Fashion Weeks offers a diverse showcase of styles and caters to various seasons, preferences, and regions. It is when the fashion industry comes alive as designers create collections that not only grace the runways but also find their way into stores around the world. It influences not only what we wear but also the way we express ourselves through clothing.
As the fashion circuit is ever-expanding, fashion weeks happen almost all year round. And so, the excitement and creativity of fashion never truly end!