Praising and uplifting our fellow females is incredibly important now, forever and always. It is humorous and sad when examining the fashion industry how a market mainly catering towards women is dominated by mostly men in senior positions. Yet, women use this injustice as motivation to fight their way to the top and show the world what they can do. Today we’re taking the time to celebrate this and look at powerful women in fashion who should inspire you.
Designer Coco Chanel is the epitome of a powerful woman in fashion who started from nothing and made it to the top. She was born in 1883 to a poor family and at the age of 12 was sent to an orphanage when her mother died. It was here that she learned to sew and once eighteen she found employment as a seamstress and eventually opened her first store selling hats. The business thrived and she went on to launch her first perfume – the iconic Chanel No.5.
1925 was the year the legendary little black dress was introduced. She took a color once associated with mourning and showed just how chic it could be. Chanel’s designs were revolutionary because she made clothes for women’s bodies, not for the eyes of men and incorporated elements of men’s wear into her ideas.
Anna Wintour is the renowned editor of Vogue magazine, well known for her oversized dark glasses, high heels, sharp bob hairstyle, and icy demeanor. Even though Wintour was born into a privileged lifestyle she is still hugely inspirational for rising to the top in an industry heavily male-dominated.
Over the years, she climbed up the editorial ladder and after stints at Harper’s Bazaar and Savvy eventually landed at Vogue. In the late 1980s, Wintour feared Vogue was going downhill and completely revitalized the publication. She called an end to the supermodel era, showcasing celebrities rather than models on most of her covers. She was also the first to truly mix low-end fashion items with more expensive pieces in photo shoots. Additionally, she assisted and helped make the careers of now-famous designers, like Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen.
Fashion as an industry has never been very good at diversity. According to the runway diversity report, out of over 8,000 model castings in the fall of 2016, only 24% of models cast were of color. Despite this, black women continue to push on, succeed and inspire.
Bevy Smith is an example of this and women in fashion do not just have to be designers. She is a successful businesswoman and the co-host of Bravo’s fashion-themed talk show Fashion Queens. Throughout her career, she has hosted and appeared on a number of television shows and made a name for herself in the industry.
Ashley Graham was one of the first plus-size models to grace the runway and pave the path for others. She made history in 2016 as the first curvy model on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Known for her accessibility and body confidence, Graham is an ambassador of the “real beauty” movement, which celebrates what real women’s bodies look like rather than the impossible standards set by the fashion industry.
What a lot of people don’t know about Donatella Versace is how inspiring her story really is. When her brother Gianni Versace died in 1997 Donatella hesitantly took the reins of the company. Despite her look and charisma, she experienced insecurities and self-confidence issues from growing up in her brother’s shadow. The combination of pressure and her self-critical nature caused her to spiral, resulting in a drug addiction and anxiety. She overcame all of this and with help made Versace great again.
Born to Beatles music legend Paul McCartney and animal’s rights activist Linda McCartney, Stella McCartney was destined to do amazing ethical movements. While critics say McCartney’s name artificially accelerated her rise, McCartney quietly and quickly proved herself worthy by creating one of the first high profile animal-friendly fashion houses.
Fashion as an industry isn’t always animal or environmentally friendly but McCartney changed this. She never uses leather or fur in her collections and criticizes those who do as “heartless.”