Making Headway

Women Who Have Shaped Fashion

Being a woman in a position of executive leadership is not as common as one might imagine. While fashion is geared toward the female consumer, it is not common for a woman to take the helm of a luxury fashion couture house. Last year we highlighted several women and acknowledge their accomplishments and impact on fashion. In honor of International Women’s Day, we again pay homage to those who have made lasting impressions.

Gabrielle Chanel

Courtesy of the Dolls Factory

Affectionately known as Coco Chanel, she exuded a confidence that catapulted her to iconic fame. Her knack for tailoring clothing to a woman’s body and creating luxurious ensembles lead Chanel to lay a foundation that solidified her place in the luxury market. Gabrielle Chanel was by no means raised with a silver spoon in her mouth; learning how to sew in an orphanage, she worked hard and diligently to ascend from the rank of seamstress to full-blown couturier, a feat not easily managed as it was typically men who dominated the fashion industry. From her vision came classic staples such as the Reissue 2.55, the Classic Flap, and of course, her signature tweed material, whether presented as a suit or handbag. Even today, decades later, we flock to the ‘double C’ emblazoned boutiques hoping to snatch up the next exclusive item that is synonymous with luxury.


Donatella Versace

Courtesy of W Magazine

Even prior to her brother’s death in 1997, at which point she became the creative chief, Donatella Versace was heavily involved with the Versace label. Her brother allowed her free reign of Versus, a diffusion line which he gifted her in 1989. While Versus closed in 2005, Donatella has remained at the helm of Versace which has continued to be a solid contender in the luxury market. Beyond her fashion house, Donatella has been notoriously visible, not only in fashion but in pop culture and media as well. Ever the socialite, her parties are known far and wide across Europe, garnering the attention of celebrities and royalty. Regardless of her exuberant social life, Donatella has kept the Versace house bold and unapologetic with her continued use of the Greek symbology that Gianni used to make the label recognizable. One thing can be said about Versace: it holds tightly to its ostentatious aesthetic.


Stella McCartney

Daughter to one of the most famous musicians of all time, Stella McCartney had access to opportunities that others were not privy to early in life. Her connections would allow her to gain experience in the fashion world long before any of her peers. Despite this, Stella McCartney has made a name for herself that doesn’t necessarily connect her with her father, and has become the face of idyllic sustainable fashion. At her label’s core is the mission to make fashion a recycling process by continuously using what already exists, something she refers to as a “circular solution”. This is a concept that she embraces in hopes that her company’s carbon footprint is minimized as much as possible, even considering the wood construction of and packaging in her stores, which aims to use at least 50% post-consumer products. Stella McCartney recently separated from the Kering Group, making her one of the few women to own a major luxury eponymous label in its entirety.


These are but a few of the women who have helped shape the industry into what it is today. With the coming years, we hope to see continuous growth and forward thinking from these luxury fashion brands the labels – after all, the industry’s female consumers are actively seeking visionaries who understand and can cater to them.

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