The Briefest History of Fashion Week by Adrienne Yancy

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has officially begun! This once little known event has grown into a seasonal social media event where anyone who is somebody travels to NYC during  to cover the shows, style spot on the streets of the city, star search, or just party like a rock star! I’ve been going to fashion week since 2005, and each for a different reason.


When I was a college student at Howard University, we used to sneak into the shows to see the new trends, and to just be in the Tent when it was held at Bryant Park. We loved being treated like stars inside the tent by all of the volunteers and vendors. My favorite memory was going backstage after Anna Sui’s show and having champagne with the designer, models, and watching the press interviews.  Afterwards we went outside and talked with the designer herself, when she went to have a smoke after her press was booted! During Fashion’s Night Out, I’ve had the pleasure of running into such Idols as Karl Lagerfeld, Andre Leon Talley, and Pharrel of N.E.R.D. I’ve also gone to the City to party and attend magazine events and launch parties. Most recently as my and my industry friends’ businesses have been growing, I’ve shown during fashion week, and I’ve been invited to attend many more important shows and events.

ArielSimone – 2010

But, fashion week wasn’t always this breathtaking of an event. Long before this became a multi-city event, designers would show their newest collections at department stores like Saks, and Neiman Marcus. In France, Christian Dior hosted his first show at his salon in 1947.

 ‘Bar’ Suit and Jacket – 1947 Spring/Summer Collection

Even into the 60’s Fashion Week was a small smattering of people, but one noteworthy event, Paco Rabanne, former jewelry designer-turned fashion designer and fashion futurist featured the first black fashion week model Donyale Luna, she subsequently became the first black woman to grace the cover of Vogue. This paved the way for Beverly Johnson and Iman in the 70’s and Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell in the 80’ and 90’s.

Donyale Luna – First Black Runway Model {Photo Source}


At that time in the ‘90’s certain models became Supermodels, and at one point they were being paid upwards of $10,000 for a single show, with maybe two looks, three most! Fast forward to today, and most models are lucky to get $200 for a fashion week show. Fashion Week has since expanded all over the globe, including the now-major fashion cities London, Milan, and Paris. The wave-maker Karl Lagerfeld even took his 2008 show to the Great Wall of China!

 Karl Lagerfeld – 2007 {Photo Source}

The term ‘model’ has been defined countless times over. Anorexia and drugs have played a big part in many scandalous stories about numerous models and designers over the years, while size has shifted from waif thin to curvy and back a myriad of times. Models of color are still rare and seen in trends, some seasons ‘black is in’ as they say (whatever that means) and lately albinism has been a trendy look. The sex of the model doesn’t play as big a role as before either, now we see many more female models that were men in the past.

Lea T – Transgender model {Photo Source}

I can’t wait to see the looks and trends for Fall/Winter that will be coming off of the runways this coming week! And for all of you in Minneapolis and St. Paul, be sure to check out my next show for MN fashion week: The Red Dress Collection.

by Adrienne Yancy


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