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Not all fashion shows are created the same. When selecting outfits to dress models for their strut down the runway, designers think about the purpose of the show and the season to guide their creative efforts. Fashion shows are categorized by clothing type first, and by season second. Style.com organizes its shows into five categories: ready-to-wear, couture, menswear, resort and pre-fall.


Ready-to-wear shows feature more practical, down-to-earth looks that the mainstream population might want to buy. Many middle-class name brand retailers draw inspiration from the ready-to-wear looks of high-end designers, including Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and others.


If you've ever seen models prancing down the runway in ridiculous ruffles, wearing plumes of colorful bird feathers, you probably witnessed a couture fashion show. Couture looks are less mainstream and often downright impractical, but they work to show the designer's signature style or creative inspirations in an more exaggerated, artistic way.


In shows that combine clothing for both genders, most designers pay more attention to women's looks than men's fashion. To help their fashion ideas for men stand out, many designers choose to give men their own separate fashion show.


Unlike the above three categories which usually see two seasonal shows each per year (spring and fall), designers generally have just one resort show annually. Originally characterized by bright patterns and flowing garments targeted at affluent tropic vacationers, resort shows have had a recent renaissance that expanded their scope. According to Fashion School Review, many designers include coats and winter wear for people heading off to chalets, as well as more summery clothing for those going south on cruise ships.


Although it's technically a seasonal category, it makes sense to think of pre-fall as a show category defined both by season and type. Designers run these shows in late summer, offering fashionistas a taste of what's to come in fall collections. These shows are often a mishmash of men's fashion, couture style and ready-to-wear looks. They're trend-setting shows, designed to create buzz and set the stylistic direction for fall fashion.