Pre-fall, that other really bigger-than-the-catwalk season that is not shown on the catwalk, officially began last week, but most consumers could be forgiven for failing to notice.

Increasingly, designers who staged attention-grabbing “mini-shows” in New York for pre-fall’s sister nonseason, pre-spring/resort/cruise (depending on what they decide to call it), including both American brands and European names, have opted instead for smaller, by-appointment presentations this month.

In the latter category, for example, are the three mega-New York Fashion Week names: Ralph Lauren (mini-show in the Madison Avenue flagship for pre-spring, but not for pre-fall); Calvin Klein (ditto though its mini-show was held in its headquarters); and Marc Jacobs (which has long eschewed an “official” pre-fall.) Meanwhile, WWD says Europeans such as Givenchy, Lanvin and Balenciaga are also following suit, in line with Céline, where Phoebe Philo called a halt to traveling “pres” last May.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Dior is taking its pre-fall on the road, and hosting a mega-pre-fall show in Tokyo on Thursday; Oscar de la Renta, among others, is continuing with mini-shows — but when such a number of big brands make similar strategic decisions, it qualifies as a meaningful trend.

As to why? Well, though some over-worked fashion people (mea culpa) saw this as a potentially positive sign that, perhaps, the relentless drive toward more-shows-all-the-time was slowing, a boon to designers and consumers, the houses have a slightly more prosaic explanation: it’s timing.

Pre-spring falls in June, a slow(er) time for most brands than December, when they not only have holiday sales/events/vacation to contend with, but also men’s wear, which shows in January, women’s wear (February), and, perhaps, couture (January). This is one of the reasons it is a split season, with half the presentations taking place now, and half in early January — when awards season, a fashion season by another name, likewise picks up steam.

Indeed, the two are not unrelated, as many pre-fall looks end up on the red carpet, being the least publicly seen thus far and hence most-desirable-for-celebs, which may be another, unspoken, reason brands like to keep their designs under relative wraps.

We’ll be nominating our picks of the season as we reach critical mass. Check back, and see how we do.

Story Credit: VANESSA FRIEDMAN, The New York Times
Photo Credit: RALPH LAUREN