Chanel and Vanderbilt among retro designers still influencing today’s generation
Katie Ellis, Rocket Contributor
February 19, 2014
Women’s fashion would not be the phenomenon that it is without the influence of iconic designers of the past. These designers have helped to create the foundation for timeless pieces that women are still fond of today. Diane von Furstenberg, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Coco Chanel made dresses and jeans recognizable staples in the closets of women across the country, which are still regarded as important items in popular culture. Without their vision, the modern woman wouldn’t be nearly as well-dressed without their contributions to fashion.
Diane von Furstenberg’s fairytale career in fashion began after her engagement to Prince Egon of Furstenberg in 1970. After she was married, she wanted to have an identity aside from being a prince’s wife, so she honed her dressmaking skills with friend Angelo Ferretti, and left for New York City without looking back.
Four years later, she created the wrap dress, which has since become one of the single most iconic pieces of clothing ever to be produced. The dress’s style is what sets it apart, with its simple slip-on silhouette and tie at the hip closure, that has made getting dressed in the morning easier for women for 40 years.
DVF herself modeled the wrap dress on the cover of Newsweek in 1976 to celebrate the unprecedented success of her line, then in its second year of production. She experimented with colors and patterns, with the chain-link pattern becoming the most recognizable feature.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the dress that changed fashion, an anniversary that has gotten a boost thanks to the wardrobe featured in the Oscar nominated film, American Hustle. Just a month ago, DVF and her famous friends gathered to celebrate the “Journey of a Dress” exhibition in Los Angeles, where guests gathered to commemorate DVF’s career, and toast to continued success in the industry.
Another woman that got her start in the 1970’s was Gloria Vanderbilt, who became famous for her line of jeans. Women during that time couldn’t get enough of the slim-fitting jeans that hugged their curves and made them stand out in a sea of blue. Her jeans stood out because of the gold swan and her signature that were embellished onto their pockets.
There was hardly a woman in America that wasn’t walking around in Vanderbilt’s highly coveted denim, a fad that lasted for many years. She paved the way for famous denim brands to take center stage, like the way Calvin Klein did in the 1980s, with the help of Brooke Shields.
Believe it or not, Vanderbilt’s jeans are still in production almost 40 years later, as they are now sold in Kohl’s stores nationwide. The signature swan embroidery is still a prominent feature, which is something that the girls who grew up on Vanderbilt denim will now appreciate in adulthood.
The little black dress is another timeless piece that is still popular today, and is one that can’t be mentioned without crediting Coco Chanel. Chanel is unarguably one of the greatest designers to have ever become part of the fashion industry, and her contributions to fashion have been making waves since 1926, whenever Vogue published a picture of the first little black dress.
The iconic illustration showcased a simple long-sleeved dress with a knee-skimming hemline that was accessorized with pearls and black pumps. In 2014, the little black dress is still a wardrobe staple for all women and likely always will be, thanks to Chanel’s ingenuity and the willingness of American women at that time to try something new.
While the original little black dress from 1926 may be a bit more conservative than women of today are used to, the modern woman has learned to embrace this timeless trend and transform it to suit their individual style.
Without von Furstenberg, Vanderbilt, and Chanel, and their contributions to fashion, the industry wouldn’t be the thriving business that it is today. These women created clothing that has stood the test of time, and will continue to be popular decades into the future.