If you’re interested at all in the history of the asexual pixies prancing about on catwalks to the moist-palm clepping of the fashion’s homosexual elite, Slate has an article up giving a brief history of the fashion show.
Fashion Week in its earliest incarnation was, in some sense, a bid to overthrow the sartorial tyranny of the French. According to Steele, the event got its start in 1943, when a well-known fashion publicist named Eleanor Lambert organized something called “Press Week.” Lambert was a canny PR maven who recognized that it was a propitious moment for American fashion. Before World War II, American designers were thought to be reliant on French couture for inspiration. When the Germans occupied France in 1940, one of the ensuing calamities was that buyers, editors, and designers were unable to travel to Paris to see the few remaining shows, and the fashion world fretted
would American fashion founder without the influence of French couture?
The article ends with this great quote:
Of course, department stores still host shows on occasion, but they no longer draw throngs
most of us can now safely lunch without lissome models undulating past us (if we take lunch at all). Now, the fashion show belongs to Manhattan the way the movies belong to Hollywood; the spectacle exists elsewhere, apart from our everyday lives.
Which explains why Manhattan doesn’t see many people looking like they just stepped off of the set of The Fifth Element II wandering about.