Taking a look at women helming some iconic global fashion houses On top of the fashion world
About a week ago, French fashion house Chloe announced Gabriela Hearst as their new creative director after the departure of her predecessor, Natacha Ramsay-Levi. She now joins the ranks of the few but fierce women at the top of the international fashion industry alongside the likes of Miuccia Prada, Virginie Viard, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Sarah Burton and more.
The mystery as to why there are such few female-led brands that cater to women — who were “at least nine percentage points more likely to purchase an item than men for every segment except accessories” (according to Freedonia Focus Reports, 2019) — is possibly akin to why practical elements of design such as pockets and sensible silhouettes are often found lacking in womenswear, I daresay. However, the few women at the helm of fashion have been steadily weaving their legacy into fashion. Here’s looking at a few of them.
Gabriela Hearst – Creative director, Chloe
Hearst was named successor less than a week after Natacha Ramsay-Levi announced her decision to step down as creative director. Hearst, known for redefining femininity with her eponymous label, will be presenting her first collection next March during the autumn/winter 2021 season. CEO Riccardo Bellini announced the appointment as he stated his confidence in the Uruguayan designer who is known for her support to sustainability and use of natural fibres. Hearst is already known for her cult-favourite bag designs and her clientele includes Meghan Markle and Nicole Kidman.
Simone Rocha – Creative director and founder, Simone Rocha
Her designs are feminine but practical and she says she is inspired by listening to what women actually want to wear and that seems to definitely work for her as she now has stores in both US and the UK and stocks at places such as Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her latest Spring 2021 ready-to-wear line featured volume in the form of escapism that 2020 has left us craving but with practicality as her designs grazed the ankle instead of the floor and had pockets too. Some call her designs tomboy-ish but I see it as what practical women might favour instead of discomfort.
Virginie Viard – Creative director, Chanel
After starting out at the brand in 1987 as an intern, she succeeded Karl Lagerfeld after his death in 2019 and became the brand’s first woman to lead since its founder, Gabrielle Chanel. From casual knits to more formal taffeta dresses in Chanel’s Fall 2020 show to their recent annual Métiers d’Art collection that featured sublime knitted pieces, chic, dreamy layers and leggings, Viard looks poised to continue the legacy of Chanel with a touch of her own design sensibilities.
Stella McCartney – Creative director and founder, Stella McCartney
After a stint at Christian Lacroix and at the helm of Chloe, McCartney started with her debut eponymous collection in 2001 as the only designer in her investor Kering’s brand profile with an equal share in the business. Since then, Stella McCartney now has over 50 standalone stores in prime locations across the world. Her brand is known for its chic, sharp tailoring and often regarded as the gold standard for sustainability in the international fashion industry. Celebrities love her for her British designing aesthetics and she was the chosen one to design Meghan Markle’s reception dress for her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry.