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The Female Designers
Impacting Fashion

By The Rebag Team, Mar 3, 2022

Christian Dior x Rebag

March is
History Month.

Historically, fashion is a male-dominated industry, with most fashion designers being men. Women like Elsa Schaparelli, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, and Jeanne Lanvin paved the way for the females making their mark in fashion today, who include Miuccia Prada, Donatella Versace, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Maria Chiuri Grazia, Virginie Viard, and Gabriela Hearst. To celebrate Women’s History Month, Rebag takes a look at the female designers impacting fashion.

Miuccia Prada

(Estrop/Getty Images)

Ironically, Mario Prada, who founded the Italian fashion house as a leather goods company in 1913, didn’t believe that women had a place in business. But, his daughter Luisa took over the family business since her brother didn’t want to have anything to do with it. She ran Prada for nearly 20 years until the late ‘70s, when her daughter Miuccia Prada took over. Prada invented the notion of the “ugly chic” aesthetic, paving the way for female intellectualism in fashion, and elevating nylon — an everyday utilitarian material — into Prada’s signature fabric.

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

(George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

Although she was a penniless orphan raised by nuns, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel used her savvy and perseverance to turn her name into a household name that continues to be one of fashion’s most sought-after labels. As a designer, Chanel revolutionized the idea of casual dressing for women, replacing tight corsets and dresses with more relaxed trousers and other comfortable looks. Chanel also pioneered fragrance for fashion houses with Chanel No. 5, and making the handbag a more functional hands-free accessory with the 2.55, one of the first shoulder bags on the market.


Silvia Venturini Fendi

(Estrop/Getty Images)

Born into a fashion family — her grandparents Adele and Edoardo Fendi founded Fendi as a leather and fur boutique in Rome in 1926 — Silvia Venturini Fendi has fashion in her blood. Adele and Edoardo Fendi left the company to their five daughters, who tapped Karl Lagerfeld to design Fendi’s fur and women’s ready-to-wear collections. Silvia Venturini Fendi joined the family business in 1994 as creative director of accessories and menswear. Silvia Venturini Fendi designed the iconic Fendi Baguette, ended the use of real fur at Fendi, and hired Kim Jones to succeed Lagerfeld after he passed away in 2019.

Donatella Versace

(Daniele Venturelli/WireImage)

When the legendary Gianni Versace was at his peak, he would consult with his  little sister Donatella for advice. After the designer was tragically murdered in Miami Beach in 1997, Donatella made sure to preserve her brother’s legacy — and the family name. She took over the house of Versace, and over 20 years later it’s still going strong. Who can forget Jennifer Lopez walking down the runway in a recreation of her iconic 2000 Grammys look? Last year Versace teamed up with her old friend Silvia Venturini Fendi to produce Fendace. 

Maria Chiuri Grazia

(Estrop/Getty Images)

Before landing at Dior, Maria Chiuri Grazia led Valentino from 2008 to 2016 with its current creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli. In 2016, Dior named Chiuri Grazia the first woman to helm the couture house founded by Christian Dior. With her feminist agenda and appreciation for fine art, Chiuri Grazia fused both together in several collections with artists like Judy Chicago, and by citing the question, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” from Linda Nochlin’s essay of the same name, on t-shirts. 

Virginie Viard

(Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Before Virginie Viard became creative director of Chanel after Karl Lagerfeld’s passing, she was his right-hand woman for four decades. Viard started in embroidery at Chanel in 1987 before following Lagerfeld to Chloé. She eventually returned to Chanel, becoming director of its fashion design studio. She debuted her first collection, Resort 2020, in May 2019 at the Grand Palais. Viard and Lagerfeld worked together to design the Chanel 19 bag, a contemporary reimagination of the 2.55 and Classic Flap, which debuted shortly after he passed away.

Gabriela Hearst

(Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

With a focus on craftsmanship and sustainability Gabriela Hearst built her eponymous brand before being named creative director of Chloé in December 2020. Most notably, she dressed First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in Gabriela Hearst for the 2021 presidential inauguration. For her first Chloé collection, Hearst paid homage to its female founder Gabrielle Aghion. Under Hearst’s leadership, Chloé became the first luxury maison to achieve B Corp certification. While it’s still too early to see Hearst’s Chloé bags on the secondary market, she succeeds a long line of female designers at Chloé, including Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Clare Waight Keller, Hannah MacGibbon, Phoebe Philo, and Stella McCartney.