style lessons from 5 design legends
“Why shouldn’t a woman be glamorous? I don’t see why wearing flat shoes, no make-up and unkempt hair makes you more intelligent.”
Donatella’s not exactly one for beating around the bush when it comes to sweatpants and flat shoes – but that makes sense when you see her designs. The Italian designer continued brother Ganni’s legacy – following his untimely death – of high glamour via strong silhouettes, and bold detailing all celebrating unbridled femininity. And it’s a fact, you’ll never see the designer wearing flats. Her personal style – as well as that of her women – is amped-up glamour and it’s no different if she’s on the red carpet, or lounging around in the Versace manor. Never one to shy away from tight-fitting garments, embellished with all the glitz she can find, it’s no surprise Donatella’s designs are favoured by the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Cardi B, and Nicki Minaj. That’s without even mentioning one of Donatella’s most reconisable designs – the palm-print sheer dress worn by J Lo at the 2000 Grammy Awards. It’s literally the reason Google Images exists.
“I believe that my clothes can give people a better image of themselves – that it can increase their feelings of confidence and happiness.”
With his enigmatic smile, Giorgio Armani has chosen a simple and efficient dress code that works. Mostly dressed in blue, you will always see the designer wearing a quality jumper, relaxed trousers and white trainers. He built an empire on versatile and pragmatic collections expressing a sophisticated simplicity and rejecting everything fancy and flashy. Since Armani started his brand in the mid-70s with structured men’s suits – remember Richard Gere in American Gigolo wearing a slick Armani look – he has been able to stick to his own modern vision and ideas. His garments featuring pure lines and some subtle details have then been transferred to womenswear to reflect the same relaxed yet chic aesthetic. Later, he launched Emporio Armani, a more affordable line for a younger audience who could sport the same elegant codes with a sporty edge. To boost his clientele’s confidence, Armani introduced a liberated style by making his clothes comfortable and looser that are both luxurious and minimalist. No wonder why he always looks so happy!
“I didn’t like the ‘80s at all; it was a vulgar moment of fashion. I have my favourite fashion decade: the ‘60s. It was a sort of little revolution; the clothes were amazing but not too exaggerated.”
It was in 1962 that Valentino Garavani showed a couture collection of glamorous dresses at the Pitti Palace in Florence, which brought him fame and recognition. This marked the start of his career and his success in dressing celebrities for the red carpet. But his clients including Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn were attracted to his designs because of their simplicity and elegance. Valentino even received an award for his ‘no-colour’ collection, which went against the trend of decadent colour palettes but rather employed only beige, white and ivory. Quickly, he became the top designer in Italian haute couture because of his sensational couture gowns, ultra feminine materials and Hollywood glamour he got associated to. After all, one of his most acclaimed moments was when Julia Roberts accepted her 2001 Oscar in his ostentatious but chic vintage dress. On the other hand he hated the big shoulder and hair-dos of the 80s that he found “terrible” to the point that he even discredited his own designs from this era. Go no further than the late 70s if you’re looking for vintage inspiration!
“A dress if a piece of ephemeral architecture, designed to enhance the proportions of the female body.”
What people might not know is that Christian Dior originally aspired to become an architect instead of a fashion designer. Things turned out he appeared on the fashion scene after WWII at the time when women were in desperate need for luxury and excess after the deprivation of the war. He started designing dresses to counter act the masculine style that developed during those difficult years and his silhouette came to emphasize the curves of women’s body. This is what is known as the New Look, a longer skirt with a small waistline, by rethinking the body’s proportions and introducing a new style for elegant women. He not only made women find their femininity again but also created dreams for them. Never fear to wear what makes you feel really fabulous.
DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
“You need, in your closet, clothes that you can use in many different ways. Clothes that make you feel comfortable; clothes that make you feel ‘you’.
If there’s a designer to thank for women’s emancipation, Diane von Furstenberg would definitely be in the top 5. She introduced the wrap dress in the 70s made of jersey that sculpted the body and became a cultural phenomenon. With it’s frivolous yet liberating design, the dress quickly became associated with the women’s liberation movement of the decade. When von Furstenberg appeared on the cover of Newsweek in November 1976, she had already sold five million wrap dresses and was taken as an icon for the new active and versatile women. Her designs are meant to be empowering women around the world, and in 2010, she launched the DVF Awards to honour women having a positive impact on the lives of other women. Sometimes a simple piece of clothing can have more power than we think and can also make you feel very special.