NYFWNew York Fashion Week paves the way for the shows that follow in London, Milan, and Paris, but the Big Apple wasn’t first in line until Helmut Lang upended tradition in 1998. The designer snubbed Paris and chose to show his spring collection in New York six weeks ahead of schedule. Other designers followed suit, and the city has set the season’s tone among what’s known as “The Big Four” ever since. Ahead are some of NYFW’s most memorable trends from the past three decades. 


After the ‘80s maximalist styles, designers like Helmut Lang, Calvin Klein, and Marc Jacobs ushered in a new era of chic and sent more minimalist looks down the runway.

284231 04: Kate Moss models clothing from the Marc Jacobs Spring 97 collection October 28, 1996 in New York City. Designer Marc Jacobs, who prompted the grunge trend, became a worldwide name to fashion when he joined Louis Vuitton as Artistic Director. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Liaison)


Wunderkind designer Todd Oldham dazzled the fashion industry with his bold prints and kitschy rainbow styles that supermodels like Tyra Banks and Helena Christensen rocked.

Tyra Banks during Todd Oldham Fashion Show – 1994 in New York City, New york, United States. (Photo by Rose Hartman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY – CIRCA 1995: Helena Christensen at the Todd Oldham Fall 1995 show circa 1995 in New York City. (Photo by Barbara Rosen/IMAGES/Getty Images)


Anna Sui’s iconic babydoll dress had many iterations, and a replica of the one Naomi Campbell wore is now on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

NEW YORK – CIRCA 1994: Naomi Campbell models Anna Sui at New York Fashion Week 1994 in New York. (Photo by Nancy K/Images/Getty Images)


Genre-bending designer Stephen Sprouse gave the 1980s downtown New York aesthetic a high-fashion makeover with his neon- and graffiti-emblazoned collections. He was one of the first designers to work with a transgender model, frequently collaborating with Teri Toye, and Blondie singer Debbie Harry was a favorite muse.

NEW YORK – JANUARY 13: Terry Toye and Debbie Harry attend “The Stephen Sprouse Book” launch event at Atelier New York on January 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Shawn Ehlers/WireImage)


Once dubbed the “hottest new designer,” native New Yorker Isaac Mizrahi burst onto the scene in 1988, and his many model pals, like Linda Evangelista and Kate Moss, graced his runways.

Kate Moss and Linda Evangelista during Fall Fashion Week-Fashion by Isaac Mizrahi – April 12, 1994 at Bryant Park in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)


The early 2000s marked the rise of celebrities on the catwalk. Channing Tatum walked for Sean John, Lil’ Kim modeled for Baby Phat, Caitriona Balfe strutted down Nicole Miller’s runway, and actress Scarlett Johansson opened the Imitation of Christ show in a look inspired by a young Marilyn Monroe.

Sean John Fall 2003 Fashion (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 8: A model walks down the runway at the Nicole Miller Fall 2004 Fashion show during Olympus Fashion Week at Studio Noir in Bryant Park February 8, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Lil’ Kim walking the runway at the Baby Phat Lingerie fashion show at the 4th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival launch party.The event took place in the Sony Atrium in New York City. 8/3/2000 Photo: Scott Gries/ImageDirect
NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 09: Actress Scarlett Johansson walks the runway at the Imitation of Christ Spring 2006 fashion show during Olympus Fashion Week at Surrogate’s Court September 9, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images)


From the late 1990s into the early 2000s, the shows glowed with gilded gowns from labels such as Ralph Lauren and Richard Tyler.

Model Devon Aoki walks the runway at the Baby Phat Fall 2002 fashion show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Bryant Park in New York City. 2/9/2002. Photo: Evan Agostini/ImageDirect
Paris Hilton modeling Richard Tyler Collection during Mercedes-Benz Shows LA – Richard Tyler – Show at The Standard Downtown LA in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Cindy Crawford en robe de lamé doré au défilé Todd Oldham le 4 novembre 1997 à New York, Etats Unis. (Photo by Alexis DUCLOS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)