Fashion Culture | Alexander McQueen and Fashion’s Firsts

Alexander McQueen will clearly be documented in fashion history as the first most awarded and socially provocative designer.

In all the controversy, surrounding this most disciplined and prestigious talent, McQueen is the most celebrated artistic designer in modern times.  He is the recipient of four British Designer of the Year awards, Council of Fashion Designers of America International Designer of the Year award, Posthumous Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design, and Commander of the Order of the British Empire.  His cutting edge-technology and ‘performance art’ theatrics created a spectacle and, to many, a disturbing catwalk, but this pioneering creator left an indelible mark on our culture.

Fashion Culture presents the first of the series, Fashion’s Firsts.

  • First American Department Store? Arnold Constable & Company, New York City, Founded in 1825.1
  • First Fashion Magazine?  Godey’s Ladies Book, published from 1830 – 1898.2
  • First Fashion Designer?  Charles Frederick Worth.  The modern industry, based around firms or fashion houses run by individual designers, started in the 19th century with Charles Frederick Worth who from 1858 was the first designer to have his label sewn into the garments that he created.3
  • First Fashion Model?   Modelling as a profession was first established in 1853 by Charles Frederick Worth, the “father of haute couture”, when he asked his wife, Marie Vernet Worth, to model the clothes he designed.4
  • First Fashion Show?  Because “the topic of fashion shows remains to find its historian”, the earliest history of fashion shows remains obscure. In the 1800’s, “fashion parades” periodically took place in Paris couture salons… The first American fashion show likely took place in 1903 in the New York City store of the Ehrlich Brothers.5
  • First Fashion Week?  In 1943, the first-ever “fashion week,” New York Fashion Week, was held, with one main purpose: to give fashion buyers alternatives to French fashion during World War II, when workers in the fashion industry were unable to travel to Paris.6


  2. Fashion: From Concept to Consumer [2nd edition], Gini Stephens Frings, p.12

Read more on best business practices and resourceful tips in the EDGE-ucation category.

Feature Image:  From the FIDM Museum History Gallery | Alexander McQueen “The Girl Who Lived in the Tree” collection, London, England, 2008-2009, FIDM Museum Collection, Commissioned 2010, Karen Coombs – Jordan, FIDM Fashion Council Member

Rhonda P. Hill

Founder, Publishing Editor