Nine Things – Fashion
WHEN it comes to fashion, women have been as important as men for decade. Two favourite fashion names, both the daughters of famous fathers are West Country star, Alice Temperley, whose father Julian is the founder of Somerset Cider Brandy, and Stella McCartney (daughter of Sir Paul). Dame Vivienne Westwood, one-time bad girl of punk, is now a legend of the fashion industry, iconoclastic, outspoken and inspiring. So, as a postscript to this year’s London, Paris, New York and Milan Fashion Weeks, here is an A to Z of nine women in fashion:
Alice Temperley – born 1975, has been described as the British Ralph Lauren. She established Temperley London, together with her then boyfriend, later husband, Lars von Bennigsen in 2000 (they separated in 2012). The company, which she owns, has become known for its focus on luxurious fabrics and hand-finishes. Temperley hosted her first fashion show in Notting Hill, in 2003. In 2005, she moved her fashion shows to New York where she showed until 2011. The tenth anniversary show was held at the British Museum. Fans of her designs include the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa Middleton, Penelope Cruz, Thandie Newton and Halle Berry.
Barbara Hulanicki – born 1936, born in Warsaw to Polish parents, is best known as the founder of Kensington boutique Biba. She began her career in fashion as a freelance illustrator for magazines, including Vogue, Tatler and Women’s Wear Daily. She sold her first designs through a small mail-order business and in 1964 she opened Biba which rapidly became the fashion shop of choice for the young and trendy, renowned for its Art Nouveau and Art Deco-inspired decor. It was a hangout for artists, film stars and rock musicians, including Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Marianne Faithfull. The Biba style was mini-skirts, floppy felt hats, feather boas, velvet trouser suits and unisex tee-shirts dyed in rich, muted colours. The legendary American Vogue editor Anna Wintour started in fashion as a Biba employee.
Coco Chanel – 1883 – 1971, is arguably the dominant name in 20th century fashion. Many books have been written about her designs, her personal style, her sensational private life and her somewhat regrettable politics. Whatever she got up to in the Second World War, her importance is undeniable. She was credited in the period after the First World War with liberating women from the constraints of corsets and encouraging a sporty, casual chic. Her influence extended beyond couture clothing, to include jewellery, handbags, and fragrance, including her signature perfume, the iconic Chanel No. 5.
Elsa Schiaparelli – 1890–1973, was an Italian fashion designer, regarded as one of the most important figures in fashion between the two world wars, along with Coco Chanel, who was her greatest rival. Schiaparelli, who started with knitwear, was heavily influenced by Surrealists including Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau. She rebelled against her wealthy academic family background – as a girl she went on a hunger strike as a protest against her convent school – married a psychic theosophist charlatan, had several lovers and a child who suffered from polio, and began her fashion career in the mid-1920s. Her clients included the heiress Daisy Fellowes and actress Mae West. Schiaparelli did not adapt to the changes in fashion following the Second World War and her couture house closed in 1954.
Muccia Prada – born 1949, is an Italian billionaire fashion designer. The youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, she took over the family-owned luxury goods manufacturer in 1978. Since then, the company has acquired Jil Sander, Helmut Lang and shoemaker Church & Co. In 2002, Prada opened her own contemporary art gallery. In March 2013, The Guardian named her one of the 50 best-dressed women over 50. Born Maria Bianchi, she took the name Miuccia Prada in the 1980s, after being adopted by an aunt. She trained as a mime and was a member of the Italian Communist Party and involved in the women’s rights movement during the 1970s in Milan. Prada launched her first women’s ready-to-wear collection in 1989, the less expensive Miu Miu brand in 1992, and her first menswear line in 1995. In 2010, she designed costumes for the Verdi’s Attila at the New York City Metropolitan Opera House.
Mary Quant – born 1930, was prominent figure in the 1960s London-based Mod and youth fashion movements. She was one of the designers credited with the mini-skirt (named after her favourite Mini car) and hot pants, and encouraged young people to dress to please themselves and to treat fashion as a game. She expanded her design work to include cars and household textiles.
Stella McCartney – born 1971, is famous for her ethical approach to fashion, following in the footsteps of her mother, Paul McCartney’s first wife, the American musician, photographer and animal rights activist Linda McCartney. She is known for her use of vegetarian and animal-free alternatives in her work and does not use leather or furs. She designed her first jacket at 13, and three years later, she interned for Christian Lacroix. Her graduation collection at Central St Martins was modelled by three friends, supermodels Naomi Campbell, Yasmin Le Bon and Kate Moss. In 2001, McCartney launched her own fashion house in a joint venture with Gucci Group (now Kering) and showed her first collection in Paris. In April 2018, after 17 years of partnership with Kering, Stella McCartney decided to purchase the fashion giant’s stake of her company and take the reins of her global fashion empire. She designed Meghan Markle’s wedding reception dress.
Vivienne Westwood – born 1941, is credited with bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. She first came to public attention making clothes for Malcolm McLaren’s boutique in the King’s Road, which became known as SEX. It was the synthesis of clothing and music that shaped the 1970s UK punk scene, dominated by McLaren’s band, the Sex Pistols. She was inspired by the shock-value of punk—”seeing if one could put a spoke in the system,” As well as fashion, Westwood is a prominent campaigner in political causes including CND, climate change and civil rights groups.
Zandra Rhodes – born 1940, is renowned for her extravert designs and outrageous use of vibrant primary colours, with her hair dyed scarlet, pink or green, and her huge art jewellery. She studied printed textile design at the Royal College of Art and became one of the exciting new wave of London-based designers in the 1970s, creating clothes that were glamorous, theatrical, dramatic and fun. In the punk era her innovations included reversed seams and jewelled safety pins. Later she designed for Diana, Princess of Wales, Freddie Mercury of Queen and the San Diego Opera.
Pictured: Alice Temperley, Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, pictured in 1937 wearing one of her own designs, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, and Zandra Rhodes.