A new fashion tome is a front-row look at runway history
In our modern era of Instagrammable everything, the phrase “New York Fashion Week” conjures visions of blogger-festooned front rows and bottomless Champagne. But once upon a time, the New York runways were the place where a bad Women’s Wear Daily review could break one’s career, department store buyers came from all over the country to buy, and names including Bill Blass and Perry Ellis put America on the map as the casually cool sportswear capital of the world.
From its founding as a trade event by publicist Eleanor Lambert in 1943, to today’s era of digital disruption, New York Fashion Week’s history is dissected and celebrated in American Runway: 75 Years of Fashion and the Front Row (Abrams Books, $65), a new coffee-table tome written by Booth Moore, The Hollywood Reporter style and fashion news director (and former Los Angeles Times fashion critic), in collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
“It tells the story of how a group of kick-ass women got the American fashion industry off the ground,” says Moore, whose book—which includes a forward written by Diane von Furstenberg—tells of American fashion’s rise during World War II, when French fashion houses were closed and the timing was ripe for the rise of James Galanos, and later, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein.
While 7th Avenue is American Runway’s focus, the City of Angels is also represented by way of Hollywood’s own runway: the red carpet and stylists—Rachel Zoe and Cristina Ehrlich, included—who adorn it.
“It’s interesting to write about being in Hollywood,” Moore says, noting the celebrity “front-row show”—aka the catwalk-adjacent fashionistas who are photographed at a designer’s fashion week presentation—is instrumental in bringing American fashion awareness to the masses. After all, she adds, “That’s how the runway became a stage.”
Written by ERIN WEINGER.