Women of Influence: Top 3 Female Fashion Designers
Updated: Mar 9
With International Women’s Day 2018 still taking effect, it’s worth investigating some female contributors to fashion.
Here are 3 outstanding female fashion designers: 1. Coco Chanel (1883 – 1901)
The French designer Coco Chanel is one of the most respected in the fashion world. Originally born Gabrielle Bonheur Coco Chanel, she was also an accomplished businesswoman. After a tough start in an orphanage, she was taught to sew, and went on to open her first clothes shop in 1910.
The result of her aim to make clothes that were more comfortable for women, was the trademark little black dress. After feeling chilly on a trip to Deauville, she fashioned a dress out of an old jersey. Many friends asked her where she’d obtained the item, and after offering to make them one of their own, the dress style took off spectacularly.
She then created the first Chanel suit in 1925, with the now famous collarless jacket and fitted skirt. Her Chanel No. 5 perfume was launched in the 1920’s.
Chanel is now synonymous with timeless class and sophistication, and her designs have endured down the decades.
2. Vivienne Westwood (born 1941)
The British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is mainly responsible for bringing in punk and new wave fashion style into the mainstream.
One of the pioneers of punk style, her first immersion into the fashion world featured uniforms for men’s and women’s design, which combined her Forties dressmaking skills with a hint of Savile Row. In the early 1970’s, Westwood began designing clothes for Malcolm Maclaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols. She incorporated spiked dog collars as well as outrageous hair styles and Scottish tartan into her creations.
Westwood’s first collection with Maclaren was entitled ‘Pirates’ and they went on to show many boundary pushing collections in the 1980’s, in Paris and London. Her ‘Mini-Crini’ (1985) took its inspiration from the ballet Petrushka, and the Victorian crinoline. This creation inspired the puffball skirt in the late 1980’s, used by established designers such as Christian Lacroix.
Awarded an OBE in 1992, Westwood has since designed graduation gowns for King’s College London, and Virgin Atlantic uniforms for Richard Branson.
3. Donatella Versace (born 1955)
The Italian fashion designer Donatella Versace was once best known as the sibling of older brother Gianni. However, this one time student of knitwear design in Florence, was thrust into the limelight in 1997. She launched her first couture show in 1998, not long after her brother’s death, and has since combined her PR skills to great effect, by dressing many A-list celebrities, most notably Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce.
Versace has since branched out into furniture and hotel resort design, most notably with the Palazzo Versace Resort on Australia’s Gold Coast.
In 2002, a collection of Gianni and Donatella’s most famous designs were shown at a special exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, highlighting their worldwide contribution to fashion innovation.