1st March 2016

Top Five: Female innovators in the fashion industry

Talia Lee-Skudder looks to the top five most successful and influential women who have helped to shape the fashion industry

1) Anna Wintour 

It is impossible to write about the most influential women in fashion and not mention the editor-in-chief of American Vogue. Known for her iconic look and chilly demeanor, Wintour is a force to be reckoned with. Her 28-year reign as editor has seen her transform and reinvigorate Vogue into the powerhouse that we know and love today. It was Wintour who made the creative decision to feature celebrities on the cover, thus marking an end to the era of the supermodel. Wintour is also an avid advocate of new talent and, alongside the Council of Fashion Designers of America, has helped to create a new fund to support rising designers. In 2009, Wintour launched ‘Fashion’s Night Out’ which allows for the general public to shop and socialise with major personalities in the fashion sphere. Wintour had a vision for Vogue that encapsulated the essence of the modern day woman and this has assured the longevity of the most influential fashion magazine.

Photo: nadiathinks@ Flickr

2) Natalie Massenet

Perhaps not as widely recognised as Anna Wintour, Natalie Massenet is and continues to be an incredibly influential voice in the fashion industry. A journalist-turned fashion entrepreneur, Massenet is the mastermind behind the online shopping website Net-a-Porter and its sister site The Outnet. Styled in a magazine format, the website is the one stop shop for designer fashion online. Massenet is a modern genius in the fashion industry, she made designer clothes accessible to people all over the world and in doing so took fashion into the technological era and potentially a lot of women into debt. In 2013, Massenet took over the role of chairman at the British Fashion Council.

3) Victoria Beckham

What makes Victoria Beckham one of the most influential women in fashion is her transformation from a nineties popstar to noughties WAG and finally to a bona fide fashion designer. Long gone are the days of ‘Viva Forever’, this Spice Girl is now a style icon and Vogue cover girl who has taken the fashion world by storm. Launching her own line in 2009, Beckham’s label has gone from strength to strength with her classic designs being admired by celebrities and high fashion magazine editors alike. It is only now that she is a fully-fledged style icon that she can be forgiven for some of the questionable outfit choices of the late nineties and early noughties. That said, any woman who can persuade David Beckham to wear a sarong should be applauded for exceptional persuasive skills. It seems that, in fashion, Victoria Beckham has finally found her true calling.

Photo: Jakkrit Nooklaew@ Flickr

4) Naomi Campbell

One of the five original supermodels, Naomi Campbell has been ever-present in the modeling circle since the age of 15. She has adorned the covers of numerous fashion magazines and featured in many high-end campaigns. However, she is also notorious for her fiery temper and diva ways, which have landed her in court on many occasions. In 2008, she had to undertake 200 hours of community service for kicking and spitting at police after having a tantrum on an air plane at Heathrow… not quite the height of sophistication that has been synonymous with the other influential women who have been mentioned. Despite being a huge diva, verbally abusive and at times probably quite frightening, Campbell has also had a positive impact in the fashion industry. She was the first black model to appear on the cover of TIME magazine, Russian and French Vogue and the first British black model to feature on the cover of British Vogue. Campbell is also a passionate charity worker and has worked with Nelson Mandela. In 2005, she set up ‘Fashion for Relief’: A charity fashion show that raises funds for victims who have been affected by disasters or disease. Whilst Campbell’s behaviour is not always admirable, her influence in the industry is undeniable. Not only did she pave the way for subsequent black models, but she has also used her platform as a model to encourage charitable activism.

Photo: thecoincidentaldndy@ Flickr

5) Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury represents yet another aspect of the industry. Starting her career as a world-class make-up artist, Tilbury was a regular behind the scenes at fashion week and gained an elite celebrity following. In 2013, she launched her own make-up range and since then her popularity has boomed. No longer is her work reserved only for celebrities, her products are now a staple in the everyday woman’s make-up bag. Alongside her strong 100-product range, Tilbury also produces online tutorials to educate her customers on how to achieve the sexy smoky eye of the Dolce Vita palette or the Rock Chick look, inspired by her close friend and top model, Kate Moss. There is no doubt that Tilbury’s make-up range will continue to flourish in the future, leaving many of us make-up lovers lusting after her fabulous products.

Photo: PBunnieP@ Flickr


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