As I develop my new collection, I thought it would be fitting to celebrate five iconic designers and their roles in evolving the purpose and perspective of womenswear. With my clothing line, my goal has always been to create transformable luxury pieces in order to conveniently give women more options. I am constantly inspired by the brilliant visionaries before me that have disrupted the status quo to better support the needs of women.
1) Jeanne Lanvin
Jeanne Lanvin created sought after matching childrenswear and women's dresses, an innovation that influenced women to embody youthfulness. Inspired by her daughter, she created lavish dresses made of beautiful silks and embroidery. However, after her customers saw their daughters in her gorgeous creations, soon the mothers started requesting pieces for themselves. Instead of changing the designs for adults, Lanvin produced the same patterns and shapes for the mothers, which in turn celebrated a spirit of youthfulness. Her matching childrenswear and adult ensembles were hugely popular and flew off the shelves.
2) Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel pioneered the use of jersey fabric to emphasize the importance of comfort in womenswear. Before Chanel's creation of a beautiful jersey dress, the fabric was typically reserved for men's undergarments. Her designs were revolutionary in that she emphasized comfort over the constraints of other popular fashions. Her minimalist styles, with boxy shapes, skirts with shorter hemlines, and elements borrowed from menswear, allowed women to ditch their corsets. Without constraining undergarments and a focus on comfort, the designs freed women to partake in practical activities necessary given the war.
3) Elsa Schiaparelli
Elsa Schiaparelli launched her fashion career, and a movement, with her hand-knit tompe l'oeil sweater. Based on surrealism, her sweaters embodied the technique of tricking the eye to see something in three-dimensions. Schiaparelli moved fashion beyond just articles to wear, and transformed every garment into a modern canvas. She was so committed to creating wearable art, that she hired her friend, and famous painter, Salvador Dali to create fabric for her. Schiaparelli transformed womenswear into artistic creations, a feat that earned her the honor of the first female fashion designer on the cover of TIME magazine.
4) Sonia Rykiel
Sonia Rykiel is known as the knitting queen after creating the widely popular "Poor Boy" sweater, which changed how the world viewed knitwear. At the time, knitwear was always made with a thick stitch for heavy clothing and straight jackets, and was not associated with being stylish. During her pregnancy, she desired soft sweaters that were fashionable, and thus started to create pieces under her husband's line. The "Poor Boy" was a short, finely knit, close fitting, fluid, and brightly colored sweater. It changed the way everyone understood fashion, and soon knitted sweaters and dresses became stylish staples.
5) Katherine Hamnett
Katherine Hamnett is accredited as being the vanguard of sustainable fashion and the leader of political designs. Her signature and most notable design is a big silk T-shirt with large block letters that read "Choose Life." The "Choose Life" tee, based on a central Buddhist message, originated out of her frustration that the powerful phrase was not ubiquitous. Inspired by the concept of designing with ethical intentions and doing good, she became the leader of political activism in fashion. Her clothing empowered women to make a statement and get involved in politics, and changed the purpose and impact of clothing.
The boldness and brilliance of Lanvin, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Rykiel, and Hamnett continue to inspire and motivate me. I admire their ability to cultivate change and shape womenswear into far more practical, empowering and comfortable ensembles, without sacrificing style. Although the five iconic designers featured in this post shook up the industry, I believe that there is still room to innovate in fashion. I am dedicated to overturning and improving women's expectations of fashion by making transformable, reversible clothing that delivers more value in every garment. Check out my designs - with two outfits in one, you'll get more, store and pack less, and look beautifully comfortable.
Photos courtesy of: Luisa World; Vili Flik; Constantly Alice; Noemi Meilman; Chris Floyd