How New York Fashion Week Became a Star-Studded Event

Although celebrities and influencers are inseparable from today’s New York Fashion Week, their presence wasn’t always an integral part.

Fashion weeks were originally intended for the press and buyers to get a glimpse of the latest designs in fashion. Formally known as “press week,” editors would flock to design houses and hotels in New York, Paris and Milan to see models strut down the runway and then rush to write about it. The first fashion week in New York happened in 1943, but it would take 50 years for the fashion week we know today.

In 1993, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) centralized New York Fashion Week in Bryant Park. Celebrities soon followed the excitement of having all the big designers in one place.

Mariah CareyNew York Fashion Week, America - Apr 1994
Mariah Carey at New York Fashion Week in Bryant Park, 1994.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

For 16 years, New York Fashion Week was held in tents at Bryant Park. The setting allowed New York Fashion Week to not only be a spectacle in fashion but filled with celeb sightings, as well.

Cynthia Nixon at the House of Field Show, 2001, celebs front row at NYFW.
Cynthia Nixon at the House of Field Show, 2001.
CREDIT: Shutterstock
Jay-Z AND Beyonce Knowles at the Rosa Cha show, 2003, celebs front row at NYFW.
Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles at the Rosa Cha show, 2003.
CREDIT: Shutterstock
Victoria Beckham and Glenda BaileyMatthew Williamson show for Spring / Summer 2007, Olympus Fashion Week, New York, America - 13 Sep 2006, celebs front row at NYFW
Victoria Beckham and Glenda Bailey at the Matthew Williamson show, 2006.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

At its peak, New York Fashion Week had over 300 shows. By 2010, the expansion caused conflict with Bryant Park’s management and the fashion industry. This prompted New York Fashion Week to spread out to several different locations including the plazas at Lincoln Center.

Despite the decentralization of the bi-annual event, celebrities still flock to their favorite shows.

fall 2017 nyfw front row philipp plein paris hilton nicky
Nicky and Paris Hilton (center) at the Philipp Plein show, 2017.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Additionally, a new celebrity has come onto the scene: enter the influencer. With the rise of fashion blogs and social media, well-dressed influencers have also generated buzz during fashion weeks, as the setting serves as center stage for them.

Chiara Ferragni at the front row at CoachCoach show, Spring Summer 2016, New York Fashion Week, America - 15 Sep 2015
Chiara Ferragni at the front row at the Coach show, 2015.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Today, celebs and influencers continue to be an influential park of New York Fashion Week, even as the event has spread to various locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Olivia Palermo and Jennifer NettlesDennis Basso show, Front Row, Fall Winter 2019, New York Fashion Week, USA - 11 Feb 2019
Olivia Palermo (L) and Jennifer Nettles, Dennis Basso show, 2019.
CREDIT: Shutterstock
Hailey Baldwin in the front rowCarolina Herrera show, Front Row, Spring Summer 2019, New York Fashion Week, USA - 10 Sep 2018 WEARING CAROLINA HERRERA
Hailey Baldwin on the front row, Carolina Herrera show, 2019.
CREDIT: Shutterstock
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