Friday, 27 October 2017

timeline of female creative directors

Fashion often portrays powerful women. The industry still has a long way to go before it reaches gender equality, but it is one of the only industries where it is not perceived as unusual for women to be in the top positions. As disproportionate consumers of luxury fashion, women drive the industry, and clothes designed for women by women have caused some of the most revolutionary changes in fashion.

Paris' oldest couturier was founded by a woman. Women brought trousers and later the miniskirt into female wardrobes. They pioneered punk and brought fashion into the 21st century by exploring fashion in unique, creative ways, even when it felt like everything had already been done before. These are the women who have shaped fashion history.

Jeanne Lanvin 1889-1936

Jeanne Lanvin founded her eponymous fashion house in 1889, making Lanvin the oldest Paris couturier in continuing existence. The label is famous for its signature romantic style and popular shade of quattrocento blue. Lanvin celebrates femininity, with its focus originally being on motherhood and the family.

Coco Chanel via Vogue UK

Coco Chanel 1913-1971

Chanel began as a milliner, with the opening of her first store funded by friend and lover, Boy Capel. However, Chanel disapproved of Capel lending her money. Her fierce independence and determination for financial autonomy, without help from men, is reflected in her proto-feminist designs. Chanel was wearing trousers before it was socially acceptable for women to do so and her jersey dresses defined the sporty aesthetic adopted by the modern woman.

Elsa Schiaparelli via Vogue UK

Elsa Schiaparelli 1927-1973

Schiaparelli set up her store in Paris to design sweaters with surrealist designs. Her line that followed this focused on bathing suits, tennis skirts and skiwear for the active woman. Schiaparelli's circle included artists Dali and Duchamp, whose work inspired her designs. "Dress designing is to me not a profession, but an art."

Mary Quant 1955-

Mary Quant's name is synonymous with 1960s London. Quant opened her first store, called Bazaar, on King's Road in London. As one of the few designers offering youthful clothes at a time when youth was becoming the centre of society and dictating its trends, Quant's store became a success. Young women flocked there for miniskirts, which became symbols of women's liberation and the sexual revolution of the '60s.

Vivienne Westwood 1971-

Today, Vivienne Westwood is best known for her environmental activism. In the '70s, the designer created waves when she launched her punk label, which specialised in bondage gear, safety pins and chokers.

"Punk feels very heroic. It's liberating," said Westwood. Her brand, which exists on her motto that, "you have a more interesting life if you wear impressive clothes," has recently become part of the background of her political pursuits, such as Climate Revolution. She held up a banner proclaiming, "Climate Revolution" at the London 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony. The Climate Revolution campaign advocates quality over quantity, buying less and choosing well, preparing and cooking your own food and cutting out plastic. In short, Westwood wants to start a conversation about climate change, particularly in fashion,one of the least environmentally friendly industries in the world.

Rei Kawakubo 1973-

"When you put on clothes that are fighting against something, you can feel your courage grow," Rei Kawakubo has said about her avant-garde designs. "Clothing can set you free." Founded in 1969, Kawakubo is known for her deconstructed collections, more akin to art than fashion.

She was the theme of 2017's Met Gala, but when she first showed her clothes in Paris in the early '70s, the fashion elite did not know what to make of her. Kawakubo rarely does interviews, but when she does her insights are engaging and unique. If female designers have proven to be the most forward thinking, Kawakubo leads the charge for individuality.

Rodarte Spring 2016 via Dazed

Kate and Laura Mulleavy 2005-

Rodarte was founded in 2005 and has gained a cult following among fashion lovers who see clothes as an art form. Kate and Laura Mulleavy studied art history and English literature, respectively, at the University of California before saving up $20,000 over the next decade to create their first collection.

In 2010 they helped design the costumes for Black Swan. This year they released a horror film, Woodshock, starring celebrity fan Kirsten Dunst. Dunst plays a cannabis dealer trying to deal with the grief following her mother's death. "As a designer you have to spend your whole life pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone," said Kate Mulleavy. "We have always believed that no matter where you are from, as a designer you are creating your own world."

Their work doesn't stop there though. They also have a Radarte t-shirt line and count Natalie Portman and the Fanning sisters among their Hollywood fan base.

Iris van Herpen 2007-

Created in 2007, Amsterdam based designer Iris van Herpen is widely regarded as one of the most forward thinking creative directors today. "For me fashion is an expression of art that is very closely related both to me and to my body," said van Herpen. "I see it as an expression of identity combined with desire, moods and a cultural setting."

Molly Goddard via Vogue UK

Molly Goddard 2013-

In 2012, Molly Goddard graduated from Central Saint Martins with an MA in knitwear. Five years later and she is the young designer du jour and the name on everyone's lips. "She's from the believable generation," says Sarah Mower of Goddard's designs and presentations. "It's real; it's not just the skinny zombies." The brand was conceived from a joyful place, with her signature tulle reminiscent of outfits worn to high school proms or decadent parties. Last winter, Goddard invited the public to embroider large tulle dresses hanging from the ceiling of the NOW Gallery in Greenwich. The exhibition aimed to get more people into embroidery, and the dresses have since been auctioned off for charity. 

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