The Costume Institute Exhibition honored two of fashion's most beloved women designers:Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. But what about the other female names that have helped to change fashion forever?
Recently, Nicole Phelps noted that in New York fashion today there is a surprising lack of big-name female designers, which begged the question: "Is it easier to succeed in New York fashion as a man?" Phelps certainly has a point: After all, in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund's eight year history, the prize has only been awarded to women designers twice.
Considered by many to be one of the first female couturiers, Paquin was known for her fashionable eighteenth century-inspired pastel evening dresses, as well as for her "publicity stunts", which in early twentieth century Paris meant organizing fashion parades (the runway show predecessor) and sending outfitted models to society events like operas and races. Sacre Bleu!
Considered one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, female or not, Madeline Vionnet is credited with introducing the bias cut and popularizing grecian style dresses, the shockwaves of which can still be seen today. "[Her] innovative techniques were widely studied and used by many of our great designers," Jennifer Minniti, Chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Pratt, tells me.
Vivienne WestwoodWe can thank Westwood for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. Without her, safety pin shirts, sky-high platform shoes (like the ones Naomi Campbell famously tripped in), plaid pants and, of course, expertly draped dresses would not nearly be so chic.
Betsey JohnsonJohnson's over-the-top, thoroughly modern designs captured the youthquake movement in the early 70s, making her a favorite of style icons like Edie Sedgwick, who was Johnson's house model and wore only Betsey Johnson in her last film, Ciao Manhattan. Betsey also pioneered the end-of-runway cartwheel, for which we are forever grateful.
Diane Von FurstenbergAs everyone knows, Furstenberg was instrumental in revolutionizing womenswear with the introduction of her famous wrap dress--but her work as the CFDA's president, nurturing young talent and helping to set healthier standards within the industry, is equally as important.
The recipient of the CFDA's prestigious Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, Herrera has built an empire on her elegant, chic wares and is credited with making the white shirt a must-have staple in every woman's wardrobe.
Vera WangBest known for creating some of the world's most recognized bridal gowns (ahem, Kim Kardashian), Wang's empire also includes a ready-to-wear line, diffusion line for Kohls, tuxedo line, and multiple fragrances, marking her as a formidable businesswoman as well as designer.
Miuccia PradaThe breadth of Prada's designs--from the nylon handbags in the mid-80s that made her famous to Spring 2012's critically acclaimed fifties-inspired collection--is truly inspiring. Suffice to say she will remain an iconic designer for decades to come.
Besides the feminine, flattering, and easily wearable sensibility that has made her label such a success, McCartney has also been a pioneer in vegan and environmentally-conscious fashion.