The Little-Known Story of How World War II Led to the Inception of New York Fashion Week

screenmixSeptember 5, 2021

While fashion slowly started evolving in the ’40s, Eleanor’s event only upped the ante.

So, what sparked the famed publicist’s blueprint for New York Fashion Week in the first place? Put simply: A fashion designer who was fed up with her work going unnoticed.

Adele Simpson came to [Eleanor] and said, ‘American fashion is really strange because the garment manufacturers don’t promote the designers,'” John recalled of the history-altering conversation. “‘They don’t even know their names, and we need to be promoted, too. The French designers get a lot of attention, but we don’t.’ It gave [Eleanor] an idea.”

As the story goes, Eleanor went into work mode and contacted publishers from newspapers across America and invited them to New York to write about U.S. designers and their new collections. But it was no small feat. “The publishers sort of pushed back a little,” John recalled, “and said, ‘We don’t even have fashion writers.'”

Eleanor’s solution? She told editors to send their female writers, who had previously been relegated to cover household topics such as cooking and cleaning.

After rounding up the journalists, Eleanor then used her influence as a fashion powerhouse to spotlight American designers such as Lilly Dach√©Hattie CarnegieNorman Norell and Nettie Rosenstein (to name a few).

With writers in tow and designers ready to debut their collections, Fashion Press Week commenced.