Paris Fashion Week

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Paris Fashion Week
Magdalena Frackowiak.jpg
Magdalena Frackowiak in Elie Saab at Paris Fashion Week F/W 2011
Genre Clothing and fashion exhibitions
Frequency biannually
Location(s) Paris, France
Inaugurated 1973
Organised by French Fashion Federation

Paris Fashion Week is a series of designer presentations held biannually in Paris, France with spring/summer and autumn/winter events held each year. Dates are determined by the French Fashion Federation. Currently, Fashion Week is held at venues throughout the city.

In addition to ready-to-wear shows, there are men's and haute couture shows, which are held semiannually for the spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons.[1]

The Big 4

Paris Fashion Week is part of the global "Big 4" fashion weeks, the others being London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week.[2][3] The schedule begins with New York, followed by London, and then Milan and ends in Paris.

Fashion week's origins

Although the first fashion week was held in New York, the event itself derives from "salon shows" ("defiles de mode," literally "fashion parades") in Paris couture salons.[4]

A fashion week consists of a week of organized events of multiple designer’s collections. "After parties" are also noted to be a tradition.[5] Before this organized event was recognized in New York, fashion showings were being held in Paris as early as the 1700s. These early showings were only to clients purchasing items and were shown on mannequins.[6] In the 1800s, showings began to change. Charles Frederick Worth, noted for haute couture, began showing multiple pieces together and of a higher design. Jeanne Paquin is the first designer to make her showings public and Paul Poiret is the first to host parties after his events.[5]

Haute Couture

Haute Couture, the style of high sewing, was created by Englishman Charles Frederick Worth.

In the mid 1800s Mme Pauline von Metternich, an Austrian Princess and wife to the Ambassador of Paris, saw one of Worth’s sketches and employed him to make her a gown. He gained much recognition through his powerful clients and opened his own haute couture house in Paris in 1858, which sold luxury fashion to upper class women. In 1868 the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture was created to set the specifications to determine what constituted a ‘couture house’.[7] The group decided that to be defined a piece of haute couture the clothing must have been; custom-made to fit the wearer, hand-sewn by multiple skilled artisans in the separate fields of embroidery, stitching, and beading, and only the most high quality of materials may be used.[7]

Fifty-three years after the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture was created, in 1921 the French press created L’Association de Protection des Industries Artistiques Saisonnieres, or PAIS to protect couture designs from being copied.[7] To ensure the copyright of the designers, their creations were photographed on a model or mannequin from the front, back, and sides to catalog the design.

The first Paris Fashion Week

In 1945 the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture established another set of rules to regulate and determine Haute Couture houses.[8] In order to meet the criteria, the house had to ensure they followed the updated rules with one of them being that in each season, a couture house must present a collection of at least 35 runs with both daytime and evening wear to the Paris press.[8] Others included having at least 20 members on staff, and that every design must include fittings and be made-to-order for the clientele.[8] The following biannual events of Haute Couture houses in accordance with the new guidelines set by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture have been seen as the first pair of fashion weeks in Paris.

First fashion week under the French Fashion Federation

The first recognized Paris Fashion Week was held in 1973 and organized Haute Couture, Ready-to-Wear, and Men’s Fashion into one grouped showing by the Fédération Française de la Couture.[9]

The event was a fundraiser held at the Palace of Versailles to restore the palace. The amount aimed to reach to repair the palace was estimated at $60 million USD which converts to 53,026,956 Euros.[10] The fundraiser was started because the French government had stated they could not handle the cost of the renovations. It was overseen by the founder of New York Press Week, now known as New York Fashion Week, Eleanor Lambert, in accordance with, the at the time Versailles curator, Gereld van der Kemp.[5] The restorations and renovations included Marie Antoinette’s dressing room, Louis XV’s children’s play room, and a staircase which began construction in 1722 but was never finished.[10]

Both American and Parisian designers attended the event including; Anne Klein, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta, Hubert de Givenchy, and Yves Saint Laurent.[10] The French designer’s each held their own showing set to various themes whose pieces included; a rocket ship, pumpkin coach and a rhinoceros pulling a gypsy caravan.

The American designers, due to errors in measurement conversion, collectively held one showing under the common theme of Paris using both Caucasian and African-American models.[10] The American designers’ use of diversity in models marked the event as the first time African-American models had walked a French runway.[10]

The event gained much publicity because of the designers involved and is given the nickname "The Battle of Versailles" because of its location and the tension between the American and Parisian designers during the run of the show.[10]

See also


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  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 McConnell, Molli. “Paris Fashion Week: A Guide To The Iconic Event.” The Culture Trip. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.
  6. Di Boscio, Chere. “Timeline: The History of Haute Couture.” Eluxe Magazine. N.p., 31 Jan. 2015. Web. 5 Feb. 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Di Boscio, Chere. “Timeline: The History of Haute Couture.” Eluxe Magazine. 31 Jan. 2015. Web. 5 Feb. 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Bazaar UK, Harper’s BAZAAR. “The History of Haute Couture.” Harper’s BAZAAR. N.p., 10 July 2014. Web. 1 Feb. 2016.
  9. “History of Fashion Week.” Fashion Week Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Banks, Alec. “Paris Fashion Week History.” Highsnobiety. N.p., 2 July 2015. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.

External links