Style & Beauty

7 Ways Fashion Shows Were Different In The 1950s

Here's a hint: Models actually smiled.

Though for us it's a bit like imagining what life was like before indoor plumbing, Fashion Week was once a relatively simple affair, free from paparazzi, street style bloggers and the overall chaos of runway presentations. But unlike the marvel that is running water, these olden days weren't quite as long ago.

Up until the late '70s (judging by archival fashion photos, at least), fashion shows were industry events that didn't attract a mass audience. The presentations were merely a live way for designers to show their latest looks, in person, to department store buyers, a few editors and select customers. It wasn't a weeklong affair, and there were certainly no Vines being taken from the front row.

So how exactly were they different? Here's a peek at the runways we'd long to watch had we been alive (and well-connected) in the 1950s.

1. There Were No Celebrities In The Front Row.

fashion shows 1950s

In the decades before fashion shows became spectator sports, the front row (and most seats) were reserved for buyers from major department stores and select editors.

2. This Was How You Did Street Style.

Think of this vintage newsreel as the blog/Instagram/Tumblr of its day. Though these were models parading the latest looks, this footage was intended to educate a fashion-hungry audience waiting for the new trends from those imitable French women.

3. The Shows Were Way Less Serious.

fashion shows 1950s

Behold, a Pucci show (in London) from 1957 which featured what appears to be a color guard clad in jaunty sportswear.

4. You Often Sat Directly On The Runway.

fashion shows 1950s

Watch your legs, ladies. Wouldn't want to trip a Dior model.

5. Fashion Presentations Were TV-Worthy.

Of course, back then there were plenty of programming hours to fill and very little competition. Here, models present the latest looks of the (holiday) season.

6. Models Actually Had Facial Expressions.

fashion shows 1950s

They smiled more often than their modern-day counterparts, but they also occasionally interacted with attendees.

7. Models Did Their Own Makeup.

fashion shows 1950s

Absolutely shocking. Can you imagine Fashion Week without makeup artists?

Yeah, things are a bit wilder today...

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