Empowering Women with Clothes that Instill Confidence (10 Influential Women Designers in Fashion History)

There are a lot of listacles going around to celebrate Women’s History Month. We particularly liked 1440’s roundup on March 8th, International Women's Day:  

Adding one more to the list, we choose: 10 Influential Women Designers in Fashion History from industry pub WWD.

We liked this one because it was all about powerhouse business women who empowered other women with clothes that instilled confidence. Very much our jam. Highlights: 

Madame Grès experimented with fabric and form to achieve perfection. She was a trained sculptor and was famous for her grecian-influenced column gowns.

Coco Chanel, who needs no introduction–liberated women from corsetry and other restrictive clothing, and somewhat borrowed from men’s wear looks to create the sporty, casual, chic, the enduring line is famous for. 

Bonnie Cashin is the American sportswear pioneer that grasped the importance of functionality in design. She distinguished herself by focusing on lifestyle dressing as opposed to market categories.

Anne Klein (born Hannah Golofski) stood for chic, comfortable, uncomplicated fashion that fits well and is wearable from season to season. Anne created the “separate into togetherness” concept. While women had long been buying sets, Klein introduced coordinated separates that would allow women to mix and match their wardrobe.

Liz Claiborne’s vision for easing the stress of dressing for working women came from her own experience. As a working mother, she knew that time was fleeting and that fussing over a wardrobe you couldn’t afford was pointless. The brand leaned into comfort, with a focus on quality, stylish clothes at a value. She was the first female CEO and chairwoman of a fortune 500 company!

Carolina Herrera designs are intergenerational. Evolving from early flamboyance to a more measured take on decorative chic, Herrera personifies the elegance her label offers to shoppers.

Donna Karan (born Donna Ivy Faske) created a collection of modern clothes for modern women. The brand took off with “Seven easy pieces” was a collection of sleek, effortless items meant to be interchangeable.  

The concept of “Seven easy pieces” served as inspiration for Pivotte! 

Vera Wang is basically synonymous with bridal wear and has graced the bodies of countless celebrities. Wang also designs for the masses, as evidenced by a long-standing deal with Kohl’s, of which she said “It means a great deal to me because I don’t know why women all over America shouldn’t get great clothes for their money,” she once told WWD.

Diane von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress is part of fashion history. The “robe-style silhouette which complimented the free-spirited zeitgeist of the time” has been inducted into The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Collection and The Smithsonian. “A woman could be dressed in two minutes flat and be undressed in even less time,” fashion historian Holly Brubach writes. 

Tracy Reese became the essential go-to for many women - including former First Lady Michelle Obama - when she used her eye for combining color and print with sustainable production. “Not basic, not classic either, but hopefully essentials” is how she described the line. Socially minded, she now runs a slow fashion brand “Hope for Flowers,” produced in Detroit’s Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center, which incorporates in a sustainable community-supported environment.

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