Fashionable Reading

If you've ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week or wished you could get a little closer to the action, now you can – or at least get a taste of all the glitz, glam, drama and excitement. Eila Mell is the author of a new book called New York Fashion Week: The Designers, The Models, The Fashions of The Bryant Park Era, and we can't wait to sink our teeth into it.

Eila Mell's New York Fashion WeekThe book

Since 1993, Bryant Park was home to New York Fashion Week, but in 2010, fashion's biggest party relocated to Lincoln Center. Eila Mell's New York Fashion Week delves into the history of the iconic event and focuses on what's already been termed the "Golden Era" of Fashion Week – the Bryant Park years. Mell tells the story of the world's leading designers, models, fashion executives and trends through exclusive interviews with fashion's biggest names, including Narciso Rodriguez, Maggie Rizer, Michael Musto, Betsey Johnson, Robert Verdi, Tracy Reese, Georgina Chapman, Kelly Cutrone, Fern Mallis and Tommy Hilfiger.

The history

Fashion Week as we know it wasn't always so full of glitz and drama. In 1943, an event known as "Press Week" shined a spotlight on the American fashion industry for the first time, and later became the tradition known and celebrated today as Fashion Week. For the first few decades, designers presented their collections, not on runways, but in showrooms, hotels, nightclubs and restaurants throughout New York City. In the early '90s, the Council of Fashion Designers of America changed all that and elevated the American fashion industry by organizing and centralizing Fashion Week at one location – Bryant Park. The rest, as they say, is history.

The allure of Bryant Park

From 1993 to 2010, Bryant Park was synonymous with high fashion. Under those famed tents, designers from Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg to Oscar de la Renta, Versace and Calvin Klein took fashion from something you merely wear to something much bigger and more powerful. And who can forget the rise of the supermodel? Who can forget the star power of catwalk queens Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista who managed to use their collective allure to help put New York Fashion Week on par with Paris and Milan. New York Fashion Week covers the complete history of the Bryant Park years season by season. Filled with hundreds of never-before-seen photos and never-before-told stories from the leading names in fashion, Mell's book peels apart the layers of 17 years under the tents of Bryant Park. It's the next best thing to having been there to see it yourself.

Fun fashion facts

  • Donna Karan's DKNY was the first show ever in the tents.
  • Christy Turlington modeled for Anne Klein with a broken toe that first season.
  • Cynthia Rowley included NYC firemen in her 1996 fall/winter show.
  • Donald Trump was unable to get into the Halston 1998 fall/winter show. As a consolation he attended the after party, where he met model Melania Knauss, his future wife.
  • PETA was out in full force for the fall/winter 2000 season. Michael Kors was hit in the face with a tofu cream pie while taking his curtain call. Oscar de la Renta's runway was stormed by two of the organization's members who held up signs and chanted "Oscar de la Renta: Fur pimp."
  • Behnaz Sarafpour felt so sick on her way to her show that she was taken to Beth Israel Medical Center, where she learned she had a kidney stone. She was sent home that evening and had to miss her show. She ended up watching it on style.com.

Watch: Fashion flashback

Before "Fashion Week" as we know it, BBW magazine produced plus size runway shows in New York City with great fanfare and media coverage like in this 1993 clip from Entertainment Tonight.

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