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The first New York Fashion Week ever, then called Press Week, was at that time the world’s first organized fashion week. It was held in 1943, and the event was designed to attract attention away from French fashion during the 2nd World War, when the fashion industry insiders were unable to travel to Paris to see the French 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 these shows, and instead, they had to visit designer showrooms. Lambert’s Press Week was a success, and fashion magazine like Vogue, which were normally filled with French designs, increasingly featured American fashion.

Press Week, 1943.

In retrospect to the Press Week held in 1943, Eleanor’s plans didn’t work out the way she had planned. Press Week became the laughing stock of the international fashion sphere, and was controlled by Paris and Milan. That is, until someone new entered the pitch.

In 1988, Anna Wintour, the British-born editor, took the role as Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue, after Grace Mirabella’s retirement. Anna changed the face of Vogue, as well as the face of the New York Fashion Week. Through the years she has come to be regards as one of the most powerful people in fashion, setting trends, and anointing new designers. Industry publicists often hear “Do you want me to go to Anna with this?” when they have differences with her subordinates. The Guardian has called her the “unofficial mayoress” of New York City. She has encouraged fashion houses such as Christian Dior to hire younger, fresher designers like John Galliano. Anna changed fashion, Anna gave new life to New York Fashion Week.

Anna Wintour.

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