The world’s four principal fashion capitals, New York, London, Milan, and Paris, each conduct two fashion weeks annually, one for spring-summer collections and one for autumn-winter collections. Attended by buyers for major fashion retailers and the world’s fashion media, these are by far the world’s biggest fashion events, much more so than fashion weeks in other cities or such specialist fashion weeks as those for resort wear or shoes.
The first for each season New York Fashion Weeks have taken place since 1943. The recession hit it hard, and many fashion houses have cut costs in presenting their collections, as before 2009 producing a high-quality fashion show could cost as much as $750,000. It still, however, attracts more than 100,000 people to view the collections of more than 80 designers.
In addition to corporate sponsorship, the British Fashion Council, which has organised the event since the first one in 1984, receives support from the London Development Agency and the UK government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills due to the industry’s importance to the national economy, generating an estimated £100 million in orders each season. Although also affected by the recession, it still presents more than 80 catwalk shows and presentations to more than 5,000 buyers and members of the media.
Established in 1958, Milan Fashion Week is organised by a non-profit body called the National Chamber for Italian Fashion. The headquarters city for such fashion houses as Gucci, Valentino, Armani, and Versace, this is the place to see fashions with Italian flair and style. Also recovering from the recession, about 15,000 buyers and 2,000 media members now view about 150 collections in 70 catwalk shows.
Held in various venues, Paris Fashion Week is the last of the Big Four fashion weeks each season, as befits the city that has the oldest international reputation for fashion design and the cachet of featuring such iconic fashion houses as Chanel, Dior, and Givenchy. While many of its shows are open to the public, the presence of fashionistas and celebrities from around the world makes just strolling along the Champs-Élysées during fashion week exciting.
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