The art of the fashion presentation has changed dramatically over time, but the modern day fashion show dates back to the mid 1800s. According to CNN, it was English designer Charles Frederick Worth who first used live models instead of mannequins to show his designs in Paris. Soon after, small scale events known as “fashion parades” began happening in other cities like London and New York.
Unlike the media frenzy that fashion shows have become today, in history, most fashion shows were private events that often did not allow the use of photography out of fear that the designs would be copied. Also much unlike the fashion show as we know it today, the focus of such productions used to be on the client, not the media, as designers would often sell directly to customers.
That all began to shift in the late 1940’s, when Christian Dior became one of the first designers to allow photographers to photograph his collection. However the practice would not become commonplace for quite sometime.
In fact, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the fashion show became what we know it as in modern time, when ready-to-wear really began to take precedence over haute couture and the runway became the new way for designers’ to show collections. And over time, the fashion show evolved into the massive production that it is today, bringing the show to the masses but at what cost?
Gone are the days of waiting to to receive your copy of the New York Times or Women’s Wear Daily (and then eventually of logging onto Vogue Runway as collections hit the screen) to read reviews and view images of designers’ newest collections. These days the possibilities are endless, with livestreams on social media to designers dropping photographic hints at what bags are being shown in an upcoming collection, there are no surprises anymore.
While the industry has worked hard to feel less elusive and more inclusive (and rightfully so), there’s something to be said about an air of mystery. For those who grew up on the cusp of Y2K, it was that magical unknown world that drew many of us in and left us clamoring to feel part of something.
These days the mystique has been traded for the share everything all the time mentality, but truth be told, I miss the element of surprise. I miss that butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach upon seeing that one collection a season that blew away all the others.
While fashion is changing, in a lot of ways for the better, I wish more designers would hold things a little closer to the vest. And in a world where we always want more, in this case maybe we’re better off with less.