Could fashion design, long dominated by men, be entering a golden age for women?
Absolutely, say designers, headhunters, retailers and historians, who point to the fact that two more women just landed top jobs at major Italian fashion houses — Alessandra Facchinetti at Valentino and Christina Ortiz at Salvatore Ferragamo — not to mention the impressive number of prominent female-led brands on the Milan calendar this week, from Miuccia Prada to Alberta Ferretti and Donatella Versace.
"I think it reflects a big change," said Floriane de Saint Pierre, who runs Floriane de Saint Pierre and Associés, an executive search and consulting firm, in Paris. "In the early Nineties, the creative directors of fashion houses were nearly all men," she said, mentioning the likes of Michael Kors at Celine and Tom Ford at Gucci, who were succeeded by Ivana Omazic and Frida Giannini, respectively.
"It is partly a result of the fact that in many fields now, women are being recognized as being up to the top jobs," Donatella Versace said, "and the worlds of banking and management are opening up to women at long last. But in fashion, specifically, I think it points to an understanding that women are instinctively in tune with the female customer."
Observers say an intense focus on wearable, figure-flattering clothes is among the reasons female designers have recently made enormous strides — even if they have a long way to go in such male-dominated fashion capitals as New York or Paris, not to mention the executive suite.
They also posit the advancement of women in fashion in a broader context of social advancement, considering America could next year elect its first woman president, who would join a growing list of prominent female politicians that includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel; China's vice premier, Wu Yi, and a slate of prominent female cabinet ministers in French president Nicolas Sarkozy's new government. Sarkozy beat out Segolene Royale, France's first female candidate for president.
Issa Rae stopped by WWD's NYC headquarters to talk about season two of "Insecure," which premieres this Sunday on HBO. Click link in bio for all the details. #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery; Styled by @mayteallende)
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"