A Brief Introduction of the ‘Big Four’ Fashion Weeks

Paris Fashion Week is an event whose magnitude is hard to grasp. The spring week this year will began on the 27th of February and ends on the 6th of March. Around 100 shows take place, spanning from high end luxury brands to small independent designers. Iconic Parisian locations, such as the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower, are transformed into runways with models showcasing the latest designs. The most historic locations are usually reserved for the big hitters of fashion, such as Chanel and Dior. Lesser known designers will often display their pieces in hip locations throughout the city. It is not uncommon to attend a fashion show in a warehouse. Haute Couture shows are rare, as the term is protected so that only a handful of fashion houses meet the criteria to call their collections couture. Paris Fashion Week has played host to many iconic moments in fashion, both good and bad. Some may recall one of the most infamous events, the vitriolic public breakdown of Armani designer John Galliano. A video of a drug-fuelled Galliano making racist slurs was circulated during Fashion Week in 2011. Galliano was subsequently removed from his position at Armani.



A Dior Design from the Paris Spring 2018 runway







Milan Fashion Week originated in 1958 and is such a staple of Italy that there is a national committee devoted to running it. Most of the shows are organized by the National Chamber of Italian Fashion (Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana). However, some of the largest designers, such as Dolce and Gabbana, show independently of Camera Moda. Like the other fashion weeks, Milan’s shows push the boundaries. At the most recent one (taking place the 21st of February to the 27th of February) Gucci shocked attendees by sending their models down the runway with exact replicas of their own severed heads tucked under their arms. The surreal show was displayed on a runway that was made to resemble an operating room.

Gucci MFWThe Gucci runway show at Milan Fashion Week this spring.






London Fashion Week was the first English-speaking grouping of fashion shows to use the phrase “fashion week” in 1984. The events are organized by the British Fashion Council. In the spring of 2010, London became the first fashion week to live stream their shows. This made the event much more accessible to the public and slightly less elite. This year’s spring London Fashion week ran from the 16th to the 20th of February. Spring collections were displayed from a variety of designers. A surprise guest this year at a Richard Quinn show was Queen Elizabeth, who was seated next to US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. She later presented the designer with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for a British designer. It was her first time attending the event, making the week a historic one.

Queen Fashion week

The Queen attends London Fashion Week

The first New York Fashion Week took place in 1943. It was named “Press Week” and was aimed towards fashion journalists who were unable to travel to Paris due to World War II. The week long presentation was a success and was known as Press Week until 1993 when it was rebranded New York Fashion Week. This past fashion week was held the 8th of February to the 16th. The week of fashion shows draws in a huge crowd who come to see the designs in two main venues, Skylight Clarkson Square and Industria. However, some designers choose to present their pieces in original places around the city. One of the more memorable shows in recent years was the Yeezy Season 4 collection which took place outside an abandoned small pox hospital. The extreme heat caused several models to have to sit down, and a few even fainted. Apparently fashion shows, like real estate, are all about location.


Models from the Yeezy Season 4 show had to sit down due to the extreme heat in 2016.


Isabel Quattlebaum


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