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Posts Tagged: "Rei Kawakubo"

IN HONOR OF ASIAN AMERICAN & PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH, LET’S CELEBRATE ASIAN DESIGNERS WHO ROCKED THE FASHION WORLD

Clockwise from top left: Joseph Altuzarra, Chris Lebe, Eunice Lee, Jenny Cheng, Gauntlett Cheng, Bibhu Mohapatra, Makié Yahagi, Jade Lai, Creatures of Comfort, Dao-Yi Chow, Public School, Yeohlee Teng, Phillip Lim, Kimora Lee Simmons, Richard Chai, Kevin Kim, Tommy Ton, Thakoon Panichgul, Kim Shui, Rui Zhou, Prabal Gurung, Sandy Liang, Laura Kim, Mary Ping, Snow Sue Gao, Peter Som, Jason Wu, Ji Oh; Dylan Cao, Jin Kay and Huy Luong, and Derek Lam. Photographed at the Morgan Library in New York City Feb. 17, 2020. (Photo Credit: Renee Cox for The New York Times)

In the United States, the month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The University of Fashion would like to take this opportunity to highlight and celebrate some of the most influential Asian fashion designers, both in the U.S and around the globe.

THE HISTORY OF ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH

Before we focus on the work of  these multi-talented designers, let’s take a look at how the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) helped shape our history and our identity from the first wave of Asian immigrants in 1763 to the present day.

According to the U.S. Government: the term “Asian American” includes persons having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent. “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander” includes persons having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

We could easily fill an entire volume listing the contributions made by the AAPI community, from the building of the transcontinental railroad to major breakthroughs in the world of science and technology. According to History.com, “Though the Gold Rush triggered the first major wave of Asian immigrants to the United States in the 1840s, their presence in America predates the country itself. For example, in 1763, facing a life of forced labor and imprisonment during the Spanish galleon trade, a group of Filipinos jumped ship near New Orleans and established the settlement of Saint Malo, forming one of the first documented Asian American communities in North America.”

More than 2.5 million Chinese citizens left their country and were hired in 1864 after a labor shortage threatened the transcontinental railroad’s completion (Chinese immigrants made up 90% of the workforce).

In the field of science, Chinese-born female physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, Ph.D., was instrumental in the developing field of atomic science in the 1940s and 50s, which included the Manhattan Project: the code name for research into atomic weapons during World War II.

Philippine-born Larry Itliong immigrated to the United States in 1929 and began working as a laborer. In 1930, he joined striking lettuce pickers in Washington and eventually became a union leader, forming the Filipino Farm Labor Union in 1956. Together with Delores Huerta and Cesar Chavez from the National Farm Workers Association, they formed the United Farm Workers.

Having spent two years in internment camps during World War II, Japanese American Yuri Kochiyama’s would dedicate her life to  civil rights work that extended to causes impacting Black, Latinx, and Indigenous Peoples, as well as Asian American communities. Together with her husband Jerome, she campaigned for reparations and a formal government apology for Japanese American interned during World War II. Their work became a reality in 1988, when President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act into law.

Indian American computer architect Ajay Bhatt not only had a hand in developing a range of computer-related technologies, but the one he’s best known for is the Universal Serial Bus—better known as the USB.

Taiwanese American Steve Chen and Bangaledeshi-German American Jawed Karim, were among the core team that co-founded YouTube.

And the list goes on and on…

In June of 1977, Representatives Frank Horton, and Norman Y. Mineta, introduced a U.S. House of Representatives resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week in recognition of Asian Pacific Americans. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate a month later by Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga. The month of May was chosen for two reasons: the first, because on May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States; the second, because on May 10, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the first Transcontinental Railroad. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a joint motion for the celebration. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month and May was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month two years later.

Although progress has been made with regard to  Asian American and Pacific Islander communities throughout the United States, sadly, anti-Asian attacks across the America have been on the rise, spurred on by the COVID-19 crisis and hateful speech by some of our nation’s politicians and media.

(Photo credit: CFDA.com)

In solidarity, the fashion industry is using its clout to stand up for the AAPI community, as demonstrated by the CFDA’s statement on their website. Brands like Valentino, Nike, and Adidas have been very outspoken in denouncing the violence and are donating proceeds to AAPI organizations. But, this it is not enough. We all need to do our part to support the AAPI community in any way we can.

Join us in celebrating some of the talented designers who have made innovative and groundbreaking contributions to fashion in the global community.

Yohji Yamamoto

A portrait of Yohji Yammamoto. (Photo Credit: Forbes)

Yohji Yamamoto is a Japanese fashion designer based both in Tokyo and Paris. The 77-year-old designer is considered a master tailor and known for his avant-garde tailoring, featuring Japanese design aesthetics. His fashion continues to influence the way we dress through his deconstructed androgynous pieces since the 70s.

Yamamoto debuted his collection in Tokyo in 1977 and in Paris for the first time in 1981. His first women’s collection under the label Y’s, mirrored typical men’s garments, cut in uncluttered shapes, in washed fabrics and dark colors. In an interview with The New York Times in 1983, Yamamoto said of his designs, “I think that my men’s clothes look as good on women as my women’s clothing […] When I started designing, I wanted to make men’s clothes for women.” More recently he has explained: “When I started making clothes for my line Y’s in 1977, all I wanted was for women to wear men’s clothes. I jumped on the idea of designing coats for women. It meant something to me – the idea of a coat guarding and hiding a woman’s body. I wanted to protect the woman’s body from something – maybe from men’s eyes or a cold wind.”

Yamamoto won notable awards for his work, including the Chevalier/Officier/Commandeur of Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon, the Ordre national du Mérite, the Royal Designer for Industry and the Master of Design award presented by Fashion Group International.

A look from Yohji Yamamoto’s Fall 2021 collection. (Photo Credit: Yohji Yamamoto)

 

Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garçons

A portrait of Rei Kawakubo. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market, is a Japanese fashion designer who is also based in Tokyo and Paris. Her experimental creations have forever transformed the way women dress and given females the power to explore the boundaries of gender, body, and femininity through vanguard, deconstructed pieces. On May 5, 2017, in tribute to her notable design contributions, Kawakubo was only the second living designer to be honored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with an exhibition entitled, Rei Kawakubo/Commes des Garçons, Art of the In-Between.

Looks from the MET Exhibit: Rei Kawakubo/ Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Kawakubo established Comme des Garçons Co. Ltd in Tokyo in 1969 and opened her first boutique there in 1975. She launched menswear in 1978 and presented her collection in Paris in 1981, where she would open a boutique a year later. By 1980, CDG was on the global fashion map, with her signature color palette of black, dark grey and white. The emphasis on black clothing led to the Japanese press describing Kawakubo and her followers as ‘The Crows’. Her fabrics were often draped around the body, with frayed, unfinished edges, some with intentional holes. Kawakubo was part of the ‘decontruction’ movement, popular in the 80s, that followed the traditional Japanese aesthetic known as wabi-sabi, an acceptance of the beauty of imperfection.

Kawakubo continues to be hailed by other major designers for her originality and her impact on fashion. In a broadcast interview with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Company), Alexander McQueen stated: “When Kawakubo designs a collection, it seems kind of absurd, not just to the general public. But when you watch someone’s challenging themselves like she does every season, it makes you understand why you are in fashion in the first place because of people like her.” During the same broadcast, Viktor & Rolf added: “The first time we became aware of Comme de Garçons was in the 80s. I think we were 12 or 13. It made a very strong impression because fashion in general was something that we were starting to discover and Rei Kawakubo was part of this … an enormous outburst of creativity in the beginning of the 80s. So for us she was part of the way we started to think about fashion.”

Two other early supporters of Kawakubo were Jean-Paul Gaultier and Donna Karan. During the NHK broadcast for Kawakubo, Gaultier stated: “I believe that Kawakubo is a woman with extreme courage. She is a person with exceptional strength. Moreover, she has a poetic spirit. When I see her creations, I feel the spirit of a young girl. A young girl who still has innocence and is a bit romantic. Yet she also has an aspect of a fighting woman, one who fears nothing as she thrusts forward.” Donna Karan added: “Rei Kawakubo is a very interesting designer to me as a woman and a female designer. As a person, she is very quiet and rather withdrawn, yet her clothes make such an enormous statement.”

Issey Miyake

A portrait of Issey Miyake. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Japanese designer Issey Miyake began his career working at Givenchy Paris before launching his own brand in the 1980s, Miyake Design Studio. He is most known for his technology-driven clothing designs, such as his signature iconic thinly pleated pieces, that would allow both flexibility of movement for the wearer. His garments are cut and sewn first, then sandwiched between layers of paper and fed into a heat press, where they are pleated. The fabric’s ‘memory’ holds the pleats and when the garments are liberated from their paper cocoon, they are ready-to wear.

As a child, Miyake dreamed of becoming a dancer, and so he extended his talent in creating costumes for Ballett Frankfurt. Made from permanently-pleated ultra feather-polyester jersey, he designed hundreds of garments for dancers to wear, a different one in each performance of  ‘The Last Detail.’ This led to the development of his very popular label Pleats, Please.

A look from the Issey Miyake archives. (Photo Credit: Issey Miyake Archives)

In March 1992 Miyake was quoted in the International Herald Tribune as saying, “Design is not for philosophy—it’s for life.”

In 1994 and 1999, Miyake turned over the design of the men’s and women’s collections respectively, to his associate, Naoki Takizawa, so he could return to research full-time. He was one of the pioneers of creating innovative, technological advanced pieces.

Kenzo Takada

A portrait of Kenzo Takada. (Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar)

Japanese-born Kenzo Takada was always inspired by Paris, especially designer Yves Saint Laurent, and moved to the French city in the early 60s. But working in the fashion capital was not easy and he struggled by selling sketches of designs to fashion houses for 25 francs each. After only a few months in Paris he planned to move back home to Japan, but he was determined to open a fashion boutique first.

In 1970 the late designer’s dreams came true and he opened a small shop in the Galerie Vivienne. Takada hardly had any money to work with, so he mixed and matched fabrics from the Saint Pierre market in Montmartre, creating an eclectic and bold first fashion collection. The designer presented his first collection but without any money to afford professional fashion models for the event, let alone hair and makeup professionals, Takada and his friends decided to paint the pimples of an acne-covered model, green. Making quit a splash.

In June 0f 1970, Elle magazine featured one of Takada’s looks on the cover. As his success grew, he moved his shop from the Galerie Vivienne to the Passage Choiseul and presented his collection in New York and in Tokyo in 1971. By 1976 he opened his first flagship store in the Place des Victoires. Kenzo had a flare for the dramatics and has even had shows in circus tents with performers.

Kenzo Takda helped put Asia on the Global Fashion Map. (Photo Credit: WSJ)

Since 1993, the Kenzo brand has been owned by the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, but in 1999 Kenzo announced his retirement to pursue a career in art. On June 2, 2016 Takada was given the Knight of the Legion of Honour and was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th Fashion Editors’ Club of Japan Awards in 2017. Sadly, he died of Covid-19 in 202o.

Anna Sui

A photo of Anna Sui. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Anna Sui is a Chinese American designer that hails from Detroit, Michigan. She was named one of the “Top 5 Fashion Icons of the Decade.” In 2009 she earned the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), joining the ranks of Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, and Diane von Furstenberg. In addition to her clothing brand, Sui has added footwear, cosmetics, eyewear, accessories, and home goods to her brand portfolio.

Upon graduation from Parsons, Sui began her career designing for several sportswear companies in the NYC garment center. It was at one of these firms, Charlie’s Girls, that she reconnected with fellow friend and classmate Steven Meisel (famous photographer). Sui’s work as a fashion stylist for Meisel’s photo shoots were featured in the Italian magazine Lei, and were very well received.

Shortly after Charlie’s Girls shuttered, Sui began designing and making clothes out of her apartment inspired by a desire to dress rock stars and people who attended their concerts. With an initial investment of only $300, she brought her collection of five pieces to a New York trade show where they caught the attention of Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. A few weeks later, her clothes were featured in an advertisement in The New York Times.

During the 80s Sui was one of the few designers who distanced themselves from traditional fashion houses and explored the grunge fashion scene, together with designers such as Marc Jacobs, Daryl K and Todd Oldham. Sui managed to carve out a niche for herself that allowed her to break through the noise and as a result, gained a global cult-like following. She expanded her brand in the mid 90s, thanks to a partnership with the Japanese fashion powerhouse, Onward Kashiyama.

Anna Sui’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Anna Sui)

Sui held her first New York Fashion Week show in 1991 at the persuasion of her high-power friends: Steven Meisel, Paul Cavaco (fashion editor/stylist) and supermodels: Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. The show was the biggest breakthrough of Sui’s career, with The New York Times commenting, “That those beauties [Campbell and Evangelista] were then at the height of their fame helped stoke the reception Sui got from buyers and the news media.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt her career either, when Madonna wore one of her looks in Paris to a Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show and then again wore the same outfit for Meisel’s photoshoot for Vogue.

Anna Sui opened her first boutique in New York City’s Soho neighborhood in 1992 and received the CFDA’s Perry Ellis Award for new talent later that year.

Bibhu Mohapatra

Bibhu Mohapatra with his models. (Photo Credit Elle)

Bibhu Mohapatra grew up on the East Coast of India in Rourkela, Odisha. In 1996, he moved to America and earned his master’s degree from Utah State University in economics, however, he always had a love for fashion. So in 1999, he moved to New York City and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology where he won the 1997 Critics’ Award for Eveningwear Designer of the Year.

Upon graduation, Mohapatra worked for prestigious brands such as Halston and J. Mendel, but in 2008 he decided to launch his namesake collection of evening dresses and ready-to-wear looks. One of his biggest honors was dressing former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama wore Bibu Mohapatra during a trip to India. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Mohapatra has presented his collection of luxury women’s ready to wear, couture and fur, in New York, Mumbai, Frankfurt, Beijing, and New Delhi. His collections are sold around the world at stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nordstrom and in China at Lane Crawford. His work has graced the pages of many fashion magazine’s including Vogue, New York Magazine, Time, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, and Gotham magazine.

In 2010, Mohapatra received the “Young Innovator Award” from the National Arts Club and the same year was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

We would also like to applaud the work of other AAPI designers: Hanae Mori, Vera Wang, Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, Naeem Khan and the countless other Asian and Pacific Islander designers who continue to make an impact on the fashion industry!

So tell us, which Asian or Pacific Islander designer do you think had the biggest impact on the fashion industry?

 

Celebrating Women’s History Month – Art, Science & Fashion

- - Fashion History

 

Who’s She? a new guessing game created by Polish designer Zuzia Kozerska (Photo credit: Playeress)

In honor of Woman’s History Month and International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, University of Fashion would like to celebrate by focusing on female accomplishments in the areas of art, science and fashion. We are aware that there are MANY more influential women that could and should be listed here, but in the interest of space, we have only listed some and vow to cover this topic again in future blogposts. Let’s face it girls…we have lots to brag about!

Not since the suffrage movement, the 19th amendment (granting women the right to vote in 1920), the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 60s, and the Women’s Rights Movement of 2016, have women become as mobilized as they are now. In fact, if you haven’t already signed up to become a founding member of Supermajority (it’s free) then, what are you waiting for? Spoiler alert, women represent a majority in the U.S. and we CAN be the most powerful force in America if we work together.

Did you know that women now have their own board game! Who’s She? is a new guessing game created by Polish designer Zuzia Kozerska for Playeress, celebrating the achievements of famous women around the world. The laser-cut wooden board flips up to reveal the faces of 28 painters, athletes, scientists, and astronauts in a similar style to that of the classic game, Guess Who? from the late 1970s. However, instead of posing superficial questions like, “does your character have glasses?” this game asks players to inquire about achievements and contributions like, “did she win a Nobel Prize?”

Also, did you know that as of Mother’s Day weekend in 1996, a group of women dedicated themselves to moving Adelaide Johnson’s Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony out of the U.S. Capitol’s basement, known as the Crypt, to its rightful place in the Capitol Rotunda and thus created the National Women’s History Museum? Watch for the announcement of it’s permanent home at the Smithsonian Institution with a location on the National Mall. 

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and Women in the World are only the beginning of female empowerment. Celebrating women’s achievements and increasing their visibility, while calling out inequality, is key to today’s women’s movement. As women continue to strive for equality in the boardroom, in pay, sports, politics, the sciences, the arts, and in every aspect of life, we are definitely in the age of the “XX Chromosome.”

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 

International Women’s Day (IWD) has been celebrated for well over a century. The first IWD gathering in 1911 was supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific and is celebrated on March 8th each year.

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH 

Women’s History Month began in 1978 as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week.” The organizers selected the week of March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day and the movement spread across the the U.S. as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

On February 28, 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week. He wrote:

“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often, the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of men whose names we know so well.” 

In 1987 Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

WOMEN in the ARTS

According to My Modern Met, the 10 most famous female painters (dating from the Italian Renaissance), include Sofonisba Anguissola, Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Leyster, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Rosa Bonheur,Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Tamara de Lempicka and Frida Kahlo. 

Organizations like Advancing Women Artists work to ensure that the female talent of the past doesn’t get left out of the history books.

Frida Kahlo (Photo credit: Frida Kahlo Instagram)

 

WOMEN in the SCIENCES

As for women in the sciences, notables include: Marie Curie, Tiera Guinn, Elizabeth Blackwell, Jane Goodall, Mae C. Jemison, Jennifer Doudna, Rachel Carson, Marie Goeppert Mayer, Sara Seager, Katherine Freese, Jane Cooke Wright, Vera Rubin, Sau Lan Wu, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Rita Levi-Montalcini and Gertrude Elion. Another role model is the first tech visionary, Ada Lovelace, who is celebrated on the second Tuesday in October. Known for her achievements in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, she is one of the early innovators of the computer.

Ada Lovelace –  first tech visionary  (Photo credit: the Mirror)

 

WOMEN in FASHION

Beginning with France’s earliest known designer, Rose Bertin (creator of Marie Antoinette Queen of France coronation dress) and the steady succession of female designers to follow, fashion has always been an industry where female talent could flourish. Let’s look at some great women who broke the glass ceiling:

EDITH L. ROSENBAUM

Edith L. Rosenbaum – Journalist and Titanic Survivor. (Photo credit: Encyclopedia Titanic)

Edith L. Rosenbaum was a Woman’s Wear Daily journalist from the early 1900’s. She was not only a stylist and buyer but a survivor of the Titanic. A few days after being rescued, she filed a story about people from the fashion industry who were also on board the ship. She wrote of Isidor & Ida Straus (of Macys and Abraham & Straus Department Stores), both of whom courageously died, and Ida’s loyalty to her husband by choosing not to be rescued if her husband could not join her. Rosenbaum also wrote about designer Lady Duff Gordon, whose career was marred by the tragic mistake she made discouraging crew members from turning back their half-full lifeboats to rescue more people, fearing the boat would become overcrowded. Rosenblum was a pioneer who opened the door for future female journalists to cover ground-breaking stories around the world, thus inspiring the careers of Diana Vreeland, Anna Wintour and Robin Givhan.

                      

Queen Elizabeth and Anna Wintour at Richard Quinn’s runway show at London Fashion Week in 2018. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Diana Vreeland Memos The Vogue Years. (Photo credit: New York Post)

 

MADELEINE LOUIS CHÉRUIT

Madeleine Louise Chéruit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Madeleine Louise Chéruit may not be a household name like Coco Chanel, but she is definitely an inspiration for female fashion designers in the ‘know.’ Chéruit was one of the first women to control a major French fashion house at the turn of the century. In the late 1800s Chéruit worked as a dressmaker at Raudnitz & Cie House of Couture. Her work was so exceptional, that in 1905 she took over the salon and its more than 100 employees, renaming it Chéruit.

Chéruit was known to champion other talented couturiers and helped launch the career of French designer Paul Poiret. During WWI, she was one of the few couture houses that remained open. Sadly the house closed its doors in 1935, but Chéruit’s influence is still felt when Elsa Schiaparelli famously took over Chéruit’s 98-room studio and salon, tying the two designers together in the fashion history.

COCO CHANEL

A 1960 photo of Coco Chanel. (Photo credit: Britannica)

Coco Chanel, without a doubt, is one of the most important designers in fashion. She single-handedly created the template for modernity that still exists today. Coco is credited in the post-World War I era, with liberating women from the constraints of the “corseted silhouette” and for popularizing sporty, “casual chic” as the feminine standard of style. Coco’s tweed suits, little black dress, and piles of fake pearl jewelry are still a hallmark of her extraordinary career. In 1918, Chanel purchased and opened a shop at 31 rue Cambon in one of the most fashionable districts of Paris. Chanel herself designed her famed interlocked “CC”  monogram, which has been in use since the 1920s and still today is the signature clasp on iconic Chanel handbags.  Coco Chanel is the only fashion designer listed in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.

ELSA SCHIAPARELLI

Elsa Schiaparelli fitting one of her designs on a model. (Photo credit: The Wall Street Journal)

Italian socialite Elsa Schiaparelli always had a flare for fashion. After working at various fashion jobs, “Schiap” as she was known, launched her namesake collection in 1927. Her business grew quickly with high profile customers flocking to her salon, including Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Gloria Guinness and the Duchess of Windsor.

Schiaparelli’s whimsical, “tongue-in cheek” approach to fashion was reflected in her theme-based collections beginning in 1935 with Stop, Look and Listen, the Music Collection (1937), the Circus Collection, the Pagan Collection, the Zodiac Collection (1938), the Commedia dell’Arte Collection (1939) and her Cash and Carry Collection (1940). She was greatly influenced by surrealism artists and was a pioneer of experimental, avant-garde fashion, which would later inspire contemporary designers, Franco Moschino and Jeremy Scott.

MADELEINE VIONNET

Madeleine Vionnet (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

French designer Madeleine Vionnet is a designer’s designer and her influence is still with us today, as designers continue taking inspiration from her mastery. Vionnet’s biggest contributions to fashion are her famous “bias cut,” “twists,” cowl necklines, zig-zag cut waist seams, chiffon handkerchief dresses and Asian-inspired body wrapping methods. Like Coco Chanel, Vionnet is credited with the move from stiff, corseted, formalized looks, in favor of sleeker, softer silhouettes. Isadora Duncan, one of the most admired modern dancers of her time, became Vionnet’s muse, hence the focus on clothes that flattered the natural curves of a woman’s body.

MADAME GRÈS

Madame Grès, couture at work. (Photo credit: Vogue.it)

While Madame Grès was one of the most influential fashion couturiers of her time, she was also one of the most elusive. Grès was a true master technician. Known for her draping masterpieces that included intricate tucks, folds, and pleats, she was always tight-lipped about her approach. She fervently concealed from the public’s eye her prized techniques, therefore earning her the nickname, “The Sphinx of Fashion.”

JEANNE LANVIN

                    Lanvin logo depicting Jeanne Lanvin and daughter Marguerite (Photo credit: Lanvin)

Jeanne Lanvin was trained as a milliner and dressmaker. Her fashion career began when she began creating clothes for her daughter, Marguerite. She soon found herself in the childrenswear business. In 1909 Lanvin expanded her collection to include womenswear and would then go on to become of the most successful couture houses in the world. In 1927,  Lanvin launched her famous fragrance Arpège.

Lanvin’s clothes have always had a youthful and whimsical quality. Her signature dress, known as the “robe de style” is a silhouette that flatters all female figure types and is still popular today. In 1926, Lanvin expanded into menswear, making her the first haute couture house to design for all members of the family.

Although we have witnessed a series of artistic directors at Lanvin throughout the years, one thing has remained consistent –  the logo. Created by Jeanne Lanvin, the logo depicts a playful mother and her child, the beginning of the Lanvin story. Today, Lanvin is the oldest surviving fashion house in continuous existence.

CLAIRE McCARDELL

Claire McCardell sketching. (Photo credit: CR Fashion Book)

Claire McCardell is considered one of the pioneers of the “American look,” i.e., uncomplicated, comfortable clothing for the casual American lifestyle (the actual beginning of ‘lifestyle dressing’). Her design philosophy was in sharp contrast to her European counterparts of the 1940s whose clothes were fitted, fussy, decorated and tailored. During World War II, McCardell took advantage of fabric shortages by working cotton and twill into both her day and evening looks. American publicist Eleanor Lambert and Lord  & Taylor’s then president, Dorothy Shaver, were early pioneers of American fashion. They quickly placed McCardell’s designs front and center in marketing campaigns and thus helped launch McCardell’s career. Her 1942 popover dress (that could be worn as a beach cover-up or cocktail dress) was in high demand, and just like that, the chic American Look was born. McCardell is also know for her “five easy pieces” concept, which would become the foundation for today’s ‘mix and match’ sportswear separates category and later serve as inspiration for Donna Karan.

BONNIE CASHIN

Bonnie Cashin in 1961 wearing one of her designs. (Photo credit: The New York Times)

Bonnie Cashin, along with Claire McCardell, was another champion of American fashion. Cashin designed casual looks for the modern, independent woman by creating pieces with a minimal use of seams and darts; she also introduced layered looks that suited her jet-set lifestyle.

Cashin started her career by designing clothing for chorus girls in Los Angeles and eventually made it to the silver screen by creating wardrobes for films like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Anna and The King of Siam. Cashin. She is also credited with creating flight attendant uniforms for American Airlines.

In 1962, Cashin was hired by Miles and Lillian Cahn for the launch of their accessories business, Coach. Her designs for Coach included the shopping bag tote, the bucket bag, the shoulder bag and the clutch-style purse with removable shoulder strap. In 1964, Cashin introduced a brass turn lock/toggle closure that was featured both on her bags and her clothing designs. This piece of hardware quickly became her signature and Coach still uses it today.

MARY QUANT

Mary Quant – style icon who changed the face of fashion in the Sixties. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Mary Quant is widely credited as one of the most instrumental designers of the 1960s London Mod and Youth Fashion movements. Her invention of miniskirts and hot pants helped catapult the growing trend in women’s fashion liberation.

Ernestine Carter, an authoritative and influential fashion journalist of the 1950s and 1960s, wrote: “It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant.

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD

Vivienne Westwood at her fall 2019 show surrounded by models. (Photo credit: L’Official USA)

In the early 70s, British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood became the go-to designer for punk and new wave clothing through her affiliation with English impresario Malcolm McLaren and his King’s Road boutique, “SEX.” Although punk music actually began in the United States with bands like the Stooges and the Ramones, Westwood and McLaren made it famous globally. Rebellious teens craved Westwood’s clothes that featured tears, holes, safety pin embellishments, clan plaids and plenty of faux leather. To this day, Westwood is still creating fashion with a rebellious twist.

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

 

Diane von Furstenberg in her Manhattan flagship store. (Photo credit: Vogue)

Diane von Fürstenberg, formerly Princess Diane of Fürstenberg, is a Belgian fashion designer and former wife of Prince Egon von Fürstenberg. The royal couple were separated in 1973 and divorced in 1983, however Diane continued to use his family name.

Most known for her wrap dress, which catapulted her to fame in the 70s, the designer took a brief hiatus from fashion but relaunched her namesake label in 1992. Today, her collection is available in over 70 countries and 45 free-standing shops worldwide. Von Furstenberg was president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) from 2006 to Jan. 1, 2020. In 2014 she was listed as the 68th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, and in 2015 was included in the Time 100, as a fashion icon, by Time magazine.

REI KAWAKUBO

Rei Kawakubo at her 2017 Met Exhibit. (Photo credit: MTV)

Rei Kawakubo is a self-taught Japanese fashion designer based in Tokyo and Paris. She is the founder of her clothing company Comme des Garçons and the trend-setting retail concept Dover Street Market. Kawakubo founded Comme des Garçons in 1969 as an avant-garde brand, specializing in clothes best described as anti-fashion, austere and deconstructed. In the 1980s Kawakubo revolutionized Paris fashion by introducing a style of dress that merged Western and Japanese influences. Her clothes have always been both directional and powerful, challenging the concept of feminine beauty. Kawakubo is considered one of Japan’s most innovative fashion designers and remains one of the most unconventional designers of our time.

DONNA KARAN

Donna Karan in her studio. (Photo credit: The New York Times)

Donna Karan launched her signature collection in May of 1985. Her genius concept began with a jersey bodysuit and several mix-and-match pieces that she would refer to as her “easy pieces” (reminiscent of Bonnie Cashin). Karan has always been a champion of woman’s empowerment. In fact, her 1992 advertising campaign was based on an aspirational female president of the United States. Karen’s signature look is centered around the career driven woman with a love of fashion, the arts and philosophy.

In 1989, Karan introduced her secondary line, DKNY, which she described to WWD as, “the embodiment of all that is New York – fast, loud, bright, funny, egotistical, demanding and generous.”  Donna received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2014 and stepped down from her company in 2015. Today, her focus is on her Urban Zen line, which centers on wellness and artisanal goods. Karan refers to Urban Zen as a “philosophy of caring.”

MIUCCIA PRADA

A portrait of Miuccia Prada. (Photo credit: Vanity Fair)

Miuccia Prada is the youngest granddaughter of Italian heritage brand founder Mario Prada. In 1978 she took over the family-owned luxury goods company. In 1988, Miuccia introduced her first ready-to-wear line and has been captivating the fashion scene ever since.

At the helm now for the past 30 years, Miuccia continues to retain an aurora f mystery about her. Season after season one never knows what to expect from this creative genius. Her motifs have run the gamut from futuristic to granny chic and everything in between. She launched her secondary line Miu Miu (her nickname) in 1992. Although it started off as a less expensive womenswear collection inspired by her personal wardrobe, today it is just as expensive as the Prada label but with a younger aesthetic.

Miuccia Prada was honored by the CFDA with the International Award in 2004. In March 2013 she was named one of the fifty best dressed over-50s by Forbes. The magazine also listed her as the 75th most powerful woman in the world in 2014, when her estimated net worth was reported as $11.1 billion. This past February, during Milan Fashion Week, Prada announced that Belgian designer Raf Simons would become Prada’s co-creative director along with Miuccia. It will be interesting to see how these two creative intellectuals work together.

FEMALES SUPPORTING WOMAN’S HISTORY MONTH

Ashley Judd, Gloria Steinem, and Diane von Furstenberg were speakers at Tory Burch Summit. (Photo credit: Hollywood Reporter)

Many female fashion entrepreneurs are supporting Woman’s History Month in their own way. Tory Burch hosted a day of panels with the likes of activist Gloria Steinem, actress Ashley Judd and Time’s Up chief executive officer Tina Tchen. Burch will also donate 100 percent of net proceeds from her limited-edition Embrace Ambition bracelet and tote to support female empowerment and entrepreneurship.

The Tory Burch Embrace Ambition tote. (Photo credit: Tory Burch)

According to WWD, other brands are paying homage to influential women throughout history. Contemporary fashion label La Ligne launched pieces that included the monograms of such women as Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Frida Kahlo and more.

La Ligne’s limited-edition sweatshirt. (Photo credit: La Ligne)

The Great. x Cotton Inc. are paying homage to Rosie the Riveter with a re-imagined denim jumpsuit that gives a nod to the iconic figure.

Carli Lloyd stars in The Great’s campaign. (Photo credit: The Great)

Jewelry designer Kendra Scott celebrated International Women’s Day by launching the Everlyne Friendship Bracelet as part of the brand’s Shop for Good give-back collection. The bracelets come in six colorways and include stones such as rose quartz, turquoise and mother of pearl. Throughout March, 20% of proceeds from the bracelet will be benefiting various women’s organizations.

A bracelet from Kendra Scott’s collection. (Photo credit: Kendra Scott)

Net-a-porter is celebrating International Women’s Day with its third partnership with Women for Women International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that provides practical and moral support to women survivors of war. The retailer asked 20 female designers to create exclusive T-shirts for the e-commerce site, with 100 percent of the proceeds going back to the charity. Stella McCartney, Gabriela Hearst, Alexa Chung, Isabel Marant, Carine Roitfeld, Jimmy Choo, Rotate, Rosie Assoulin, Charlotte Tilbury, Cecilie Bahnsen and Roxanne Assoulin are a few that participated.

Stella McCartney and Roxanne Assoulin’s T- shirts. (Photo credit: Net-a-porter)

Each design is the brand’s interpretation of female empowerment, including Stella McCartney using an illustration from her fall 2019 campaign where women come together in support and love for the earth and Jimmy Choo designing a T-shirt that reads “Choos women,” among others.

MZ Wallace teamed up with fashion label Lingua Franca to create a limited-edition tote that supports She Should Run, the nonprofit that provides resources to women aspiring to run for political office. The black-and-blue patterned tote is inscribed with the phrase, “I’ve got this.”

MZ Wallace and Lingua Franca collaboration. (Photo credit: MZ Wallace)

Author and activist Cleo Wade worked with Kate Spade for International Women’s Day. The brand created a capsule collection of totes, pouches and sweaters that feature motivational quotes written by Wade. The collection is part of the brand’s Purposeprogram, which is a partnership between Kate Spade and a production facility in Masoro, Rwanda that produces the leather goods. The facility is a certified B-corp manufacturer that employs more than 230 women from local communities and provides them with fair wages, health benefits and access to life skills education.

Cleo Wade working with a facility in Rwanda for her Kate Spade collaboration. (Photo credit: WWD)

Diane von Furstenberg planned a number of initiatives celebrating International Women’s Day. She hosted her third annual “InCharge Conversations” event at her Meatpacking store in Manhattan on March 6, a daylong series of panels that featured speakers including activist Gloria Steinem, actress Jameela Jamil, author Naomi Klein, author and lawyer Judy Smith, singer Jennifer Nettles, Facebook App head Fidji Simo, FEED projects CEO Lauren Bush Lauren and Girl Scouts of the USA chief executive officer Sylvia Acevedo, along with von Furstenberg herself.

DVF’s Girl Scouts-inspired scarf. (Photo credit: DVF)

The brand is also releasing a number of limited-edition pieces tied to the holiday, including an “In Charge”-inspired dress, with a portion of proceeds benefiting Vital Voices, a nonprofit that provides leadership training and mentorship to women. DVF also created a limited-edition scarf and wristlet inspired by the Girl Scouts of the USA, with a portion of proceeds going back to the organization.

Cynthia Rowley is donating 15 percent of sales from a selection of items — including its “I Love You” bucket hat and sweater and a cloud-print sweatshirt — to CARE.

For detailed bios of these and other female designers, get the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

Also, check out these fun links in celebration of Woman’s History Month

https://mymodernmet.com/badass-women-history/

https://mymodernmet.com/cristi-smith-jones-black-history-month-photo-project/

https://mymodernmet.com/disney-princess-dream-careers-matt-burt/

https://mymodernmet.com/barbie-international-womens-day/

 

If you have a fav designer that inspires you, let us know?

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons:

Art of the In-Between  

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

Is fashion art? This has always been a debate among the creative crowd, but a walk through this year’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute spring 2017 exhibit, the answer is clear.  The exhibition focuses on the avant-garde works of Rei Kawakubo, the reclusive founder and designer behind the cult label Comme des Garçons. The fashion forward exhibition, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, is on view from May 4 through September 4, 2017.

The show examines Kawakubo’s obsession with the space between boundaries. Her aesthetic can be viewed as unsettling at times, but upon close examination, her work wavers on creative genius. Kawakubo challenges the conventional perception of beauty, good taste, and fashion. A thematic exhibition, rather than a traditional retrospective, this is The Costume Institute’s first single-subject show on a living designer since the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in 1983.

“Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time.”

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Walking through the exhibit it is clear that Kawakubo has blurred the line between art and fashion. She is pushing us to think differently about clothing. Her creations are sculptural, intelligent and creative. She deconstructs fashion to the core. Her genius is that she is challenging us to think differently about fashion and beauty. According to Francesca Sterlacci, the Founder/CEO of University Of Fashion, “She challenged the status quo meaning of clothes and succeeded in disrupting the notion of  ‘traditional beauty.’ In light of the controversy over body fat and body shaming, Kawakubo sends a powerful message.”

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

The exhibition showcases approximately 120 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear designs for Comme des Garçons, dating from her first runway show in 1981 to her most recent collection. The white-walled exhibit is broken into nine dominate and recurring aesthetic expressions in Kawakubo’s work: Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, High/Low, Then/Now, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. Each section examines the “in-betweenness.”  The exhibit guidebook suggests a pathway through the circular layout inhabited by puzzle-piece-like structures framing the looks, but guests also are encouraged to choose their own adventures and let their imaginations go wild.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

In her career, the 74-year old designer has been hailed a revolutionary; she has managed to break down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness. Her fashions demonstrate the endless possibilities to rethink the female body and feminine identity. The exhibit reflects Kawakubo’s enduring interest in blurring the boundaries between body and dress.

Studying Kawakubo’s work it becomes clear, she loves to experiment with forms and clearly ignores the norm — she is in a constant search for “newness.” Her clothes are sculptural objects, non-functional at times, but maybe we should forget about clothing and we should view Kawakubo’s work as a true contemporary artist whose tools involve fabrics, utility and the body.

Rei Kawakubo said, “I have always pursued a new way of thinking about design…by denying established values, conventions, and what is generally accepted as the norm. And the modes of expression that have always been most important to me are fusion…imbalance… unfinished… elimination…and absence of intent.” A hallmark of the Japanese philosophy of wabi-wabi.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

To learn more about Rei Kawakubo and other key players in the fashion industry, pick up the second edition of “The Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry” (due out in August) by UoF’s founder Francesca Sterlacci, as well as checking out Google’s latest project “We Wear Culture” – Now the world will get to see Kawakubo’s genius.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

 

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit