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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Breaking barriers: Celebrating women in fashion

Women who changed the fashion industry with innovative clothing creations
Karina Torres
These are the five fashion designers who changed the industry and left their mark. Designers utilize their work in fashion to express different concepts and ideas in creative ways. (Graphic created in Canva by Karina Torres)

The fashion industry is often seen as extravagant and glamorous, it is a stage where women have played significant roles as designers, innovators and trendsetters.

The industry is known to be very competitive and hard to break through, but despite these challenges women, like Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Vivienne Westwood, Aurora James and Diane von Furstenberg have managed to find success by reshaping the narrative of the fashion industry.

Vera Wang

One woman in particular, who stands out as innovative and trailblazing for her accomplishments in the fashion industry is the designer Vera Wang.

In 1990, Wang transformed the bridal industry, by opening her own salon at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City, where she broke the traditional views of bridal wear and created diverse and colorful new looks.

Wang wanted to push the boundaries of what women could wear on their wedding day, by offering modern bridal dresses to her clients that allowed women to experiment with their wedding gowns rather than conform to traditional bridal wear.

Wang’s go-to bridal wear is known for its razor-cut fabric, intricate lace and delicate beading that helps create these magnificent and high-quality dresses.

Wang branched out of bridal gowns by partnering with Kohls and launching the affordable brand Simply Vera Wang in 2006. A cost-effective collection in which she sells beddings, jewelry, pants, dresses and blazers.

Wang continues to make bridal collections, known for their feminine detail and modern approach.

Carolina Herrera

With a career spanning decades, Carolina Herrera has established herself as an iconic figure in the fashion world, known for creating sophisticated and classical outfits.

Moving from Venezuela to the States, was a huge accomplishment for the designer who then started her fashion brand.

Herrera crafted bridal gowns and dresses renowned for their elegance and distinctive style. Thanks to her sharp eye for beauty and fashion, her designs captivated icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Michelle Obama.

Her fashion looks caught the attention of socialites and she herself was admitted into the Best Dressed Hall of Fame. She launched her first fashion show in 1981 and several years later introduced her own fragrances and a bridal collection.

Herrera launched CH Carolina Herrera in 2008, which included dresses, jackets, skirts and sweatshirts for women. For men she designed shirts, shoes, suits and many more items for a casual attire look to do daily activities.

The fashion icon stepped down from her brand as creative director and became its global brand ambassador.

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood has become an iconic figure in the fashion industry, due to her innovation of embracing women’s curves, creating looks of all sizes and a rebellious nature toward trends.

She left a memorable mark by making people feel important when wearing her clothes, which changed fashion standards.

She designed a mini-crini, a thigh-grazing crinoline that was showcased in her spring-summer 1985 collection, she also embodied the century bustle in the tartan mini skirts and knitwear dresses she designed, which changed the fashion industry.

Westwood was a self-taught designer who met Malcolm McLaren, the future manager of the punk band the Sex Pistols, and the two began a fashion career together running a second-hand vintage shop called Let it Rock.

The clothes became an instant success and soon opened a ready-to-wear collection with McLaren, called Pirates.

Westwood parted ways with McLaren after also being in a relationship with him and set out to be an independent designer.

Westwood passed away on Dec. 29, 2022, but her work and legacy live on through her brand and the impact she left behind in the fashion industry.

Aurora James

Aurora James has reshaped the fashion industry through her commitment to diversity, sustainability and social justice.

It’s challenging for women of color to enter the field of fashion and launch their own brands, but James managed to succeed by launching Brother Vellies, a brand in which she honors her African heritage.

She was named in the Time 100’s list of 100 most influential people of 2021 and was also awarded with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue Fashion Fund prize in 2015.

Her designs are handmade and crafted around the world which is important to her in maintaining sustainability.

James gained recognition for her designs of traditional African shoes when she launched her brand Brother Vellies, driven to keep African design practices and techniques and to garner recognition for them.

She has gained worldwide success and has had the opportunity to dress celebrities like Beyonce, Rihanna, Meghan Markle and Zendaya.

Diane von Furstenberg

Diane von Furstenberg has empowered women through the fashion industry, revolutionizing her iconic wrap dress and inspiring up-and-coming designers.

With every collection von Furstenberg makes she wants women to feel confident and timeless by wearing her outfits.

Von Furstenberg began her career as a model before she started working as a fashion designer, creating T-shirts and shirt dresses and then worked on her infamous wrap dress.

Von Furstenberg’s wrap dress, a dress with a front closure that is formed by wrapping one side across the other and then fastening it on the side or behind, came out during a time when many women were entering the workforce and began to wear trousers to work.

Millions of wrap dresses were sold and because of its success, many women began to look up to von Furstenberg and she became a role model. Her wrap dress became a powerful symbol amongst women and some of the dresses are in an exhibition in the Smithsonian Museum.

Designers such as these deserve to be recognized as having had an influence on fashion through their creative and revolutionary work that has shaped the industry and has left an undeniable mark.

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About the Contributor
Karina Torres
Karina Torres, A&E Staffer
(she/her) Karina Torres is a transfer student from Sierra College and will be graduating in the fall of 2024. Her major is journalism and this is her first semester at The State Hornet. She loves beauty and fashion and would love to pursue a career in that field.
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