When it comes to women influencing fashion, there are dozens of names you can throw out there, from Donatella Versace to Vivienne Westwood, Coco Chanel, Mary Quant, and many more.
But there are also a large number of women who haven’t perhaps received the credit they deserve for the Mark they’ve left on style and fashion. From historical figures to designers themselves, we explore some of the most influential figures in fashion that perhaps wouldn’t be at the very forefront of your mind…
Anne Cole Lowe
Anne Cole Lowe is a person lost to the prejudice of her time and today would be lauded as a dressmaker for the elite. Anne Cole Lowe was born in 1898 and was a black American born into a family of seamstresses. Her skill sent her to the very top though, being the designer and dressmaker for none other than Jacqueline Bouvier as she married John F Kennedy.
The coverage around the day was huge, and the press covered the story, praised the dress, but never mentioned the magnificent woman that made it. Even today Jacqueline’s dress is considered one of the most stylish wedding dresses of all time, which is why Anne Lowe certainly makes the cut in this list.
We’re heading back some time now. In fact, all the way back to the days of Ancient Egypt. Cleopatra has inspired many things, from the millions who now wish to travel to Egypt, to a range of movies and games, such as themed slots like Cleopatra which you can find here.
That’s largely due to how recognisable she is, and how popular her story is. However, with that has also come a huge influence on style and fashion that often goes ignored. During her reign many looked up to her and how she dressed, while films today, such as Elizabeth Taylor’s portrayal of Cleopatra, still holds much influence.
The peplum dress is one that dates back to the times of Ancient Egypt and Greece, while her use of jewelry and the “melon hairstyle” is also still considered incredibly cool to this day.
Fast-forward to the late 1980s and we’re going to dive into the work of Katharine Hamnett, a fashion designer that often doesn’t get the praise she deserves. During the 80s she was one of the most revered designed in the UK, with the likes of George Michael and Frankie Goes To Hollywood often wearing her pop-street-fashion style clothes.
It is her work on the 90s which we’re going to concentrate on though. Realising the impact fashion had on the cotton-farming, she diverted her attention to sustainability and ensuring that her products were created with as little damage on the environment and people as possible.
She challenged the way denim was produced, as well as polyester and pulled many lucrative deals to ensure she made clothes in the right way. To this day she’s still making sustainable fashion, often in line with her political activism, which she is just as well-known for today.
Yuni Ahn has been one of the most sought after designers of recent years but often doesn’t get the recognition she deserves. She made a surprise exit from Parisian label Maison Kitsune just last year after just two years at the business.
There she really did bring in a bold new era for the brand, having previously earned her crust at Celine, while also having worked alongside Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo and Miuccia Prada. Specializing in womenswear, although has also worked across accessories such as sunglasses, jewelry, and more, we all anticipate what may come next from the designer, with no news on what may lie ahead.
Elizabeth Keckley was born in 1818 into slavery, suffering abuse that led to her becoming pregnant at 14. In her 30s she moved to work with a family in St Louis and picked up skills in dressmaking, with her skills eventually pulling the family out of debt. This allowed her to buy her freedom, in which she would move to Washington DC and enjoy a raft of commissions from the wives of the likes of Jefferson Davies, Robert E Lee and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
She eventually became the official dressmaker of the White House and during her later years went on to teach at Wilberforce University, a place where she would inspire many more young Black designers.
Pauline Trigere played a major role in the unique American style of the 1920s and in particular sportswear. Escaping the Nazis during the war, the Jewish designer arrived in New York and launched a garment business with her brother in the city during the 1940s.
She was well known for her innovation, being largely responsible for turning the jumpsuit into fashionable attire, while other items such as reversible outerwear and rhinestone bra tops are also in the main thanks to her.
By the 1960s she was really making her mark, becoming the first designer to employ a black model and standing up for equality not just within the fashion industry, but in society as a whole.
Born just before the turn of the 1900s, Dorothy Shaver began life as a teacher, but it was during her time as a shop attendant in New York’s Lord & Taylor where she made her mark, working her way up the ladder to becoming one of the most powerful retail execs in the business.
She fought for many things within the fashion industry and employment as a whole, including fighting for the right for female employees to be granted longer maternity leave benefits. In 1930 she launched the Fashion Group, an organisation built to support women in the fashion industry, while the American Look program, another of Shaver’s inventions worked wonders for championing unknown designers across the country.
Eventually Shaver became the head of Lord & Taylor, becoming the first woman to head up a multimillion-dollar firm in the USA, and she promoted some of the most iconic designers of all time, including the aforementioned Trigere.