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. Notable designers who made this decision include Carmen Marc Valvo, Betsey Johnson, and Vera Wang.
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 effecting 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, New York Fashion Week will be hosted in Damrosch Park at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts starting in 2010.
Spring 2009 Fashion Week: February 5–12, 2009
Fall 2009 Fashion Week: September 13–20, 2009
Spring 2010 Prêt-à-Porter Fashion Week: September 10–17, 2009