Happy International Women's Day– Here Are 5 Female Creative Directors Making Waves in the Fashion Industry
Featuring Chitose Abe, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Sarah Burton, Clare Waight Keller and Yuni Ahn.
Today is International Women’s Day, and while we believe that every single day is a good day to celebrate women, today is a very important day. In a very male-dominated society, we’re constantly navigating things like the pay-gap, sexism and so much more, but throughout the past few years, women have come together and created movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up. It is now 2019, and women are taking control of their own lives and their own careers, and we’re slowly starting to get closer to gender equality.
To celebrate women, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite ladies making moves in the fashion industry, creating some of fashion’s most sought after pieces and collaborations. Take a look at our list of five important female creative directors below, and take the day to celebrate all the women in your life.
Following Alexander McQueen‘s tragic death in 2010, Sarah Burton was named as the creative director for the luxury label. She been at the helm since, presenting her first McQueen womenswear collection in September 2010, and her latest Fall/Winter 2019 range at Paris Fashion Week, just a few days ago.
Burton has always been quiet when it comes to interviews, telling Vogue she doesn’t usually like to partake and be in the limelight. Although, the designer did open up about her relationship with Lee Alexander McQueen, saying that.”He was so inspiring. He was very kind to me. He was like a big brother. I was very shy, came from a very different background, but because Lee believed in me, it made me believe in myself. I was a pillar; my job was to make things happen.”
Not only has she received praise for her collections, she also designed the wedding dress for Kate Middleton when she married Prince William in 2011, the same year she was also awarded the prize of Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. Needless to say, Burton has managed to carry on the legacy of Alexander McQueen, whilst still showcasing her unique aesthetic and eye for shape, detail and construction.
In 2016, it was revealed that Maria Grazia Chiuri would be stepping down from her role as co-creative director of Valentino to join Christian Dior. Since 2008, she’d been working alongside Pierpaolo Piccoli in the position, where the duo brought new life to the label and made it one of the most talked about luxury brands in the industry.
Entering Dior, Chiuri took over as the house’s first female artistic director. Replacing Raf Simons after he stepped down from the role, Maria Grazia Chiuri presented her debut collection at Paris Fashion Week in September 2016. In her role at Dior, she’s been creating a new and empowering DNA for women around the world through her now iconic “We Should All Be Feminists” T-Shirt, as well as bringing back signature pieces like the Saddle Bag from the archives. It’s obvious that Chiuri has paved the way for more women to take the helm at large fashion houses, and her most recent FW19 collection at PFW proved that she’s here to stay, presenting a range celebrating sisterhood.
During her time at Valentino, Chiuri also received the prestigious CFDA International Award in 2015, alongside Valentino partner Pierpaolo Piccoli.
After working as a pattern cutter at COMME des GARÇONS and working for Junya Watanabe, Japanese designer Chitose Abe decided to start her own label in 1999. Starting as a knitwear brand, sacai has grown into one of the most recognized brands in the industry, showing collections at Paris Fashion Week and collaborating with giants like Beats by Dre, Nike and more.
Something important to note about Chitose Abe is that she owns 100-percent of her business, giving her complete control and creative freedom to do whatever she chooses. In our exclusive interview with Abe, she told us that, “The balance between the creation and the business is really important. Because I’m the CEO, I’m able to make all the decisions and judgements myself which creates a very personal approach to the brand.” Her refreshing approach is one that has managed to grow sacai at a rapid pace since its inception, and put Chitose Abe on the map alongside the industry’s biggest designers.
In 2018, it was announced that Phoebe Philo would be stepping down from Céline, with Hedi Slimane as her successor. Her unique aesthetic made Céline one of the most sought-after womenswear labels out there through its luxury yet modern feel, and that’s where Yuni Ahn comes in. Having previously worked alongside Philo as the label’s design director, Ahn left the label in 2018 to join Gildas Loëc at Maison Kitsuné, showing her first collection in January 2019.
Presenting her debut collection at Paris Fashion Week Men’s earlier this year, Ahn brought a whole new approach and aesthetic to the Parisian label. The designer told us that she still takes inspiration from her years at Céline, saying that “it is very close to the Céline womenswear because I worked there for two seasons. There were a lot of core, signature pieces and I completely devoted myself to creating them, so I can’t help being influenced by the label. So in a way it is there, but obviously Kitsuné is a totally different brand and I love the history of its music as well as the playful vibe.”
We’re sure that Yuni Ahn will manage to build Maison Kitsuné even more throughout the upcoming seasons, and the designer is one to watch throughout the upcoming years.
Clare Waight Keller started her career at Calvin Klein in New York, then became a stylist for the women’s ready-to-wear line, before moving on to Ralph Lauren, then Tom Ford and Gucci. Later on, she became artistic director of Pringle of Scotland, and exited the label in 2011, when she joined Chloé in the same position. Following Riccardo Tisci‘s departure from Givenchy in 2017, Keller entered the label as artistic director of Haute Couture as well as ready-to-wear for both womenswear and menswear. She became the first woman to hold the position at the company, where she’s still stationed today.
In 2018, the designer gained a lot of buzz when she designed Meghan Markle‘s dress for the highly spotlighted royal wedding, where she married Prince Harry. Since entering the label Keller has managed to grow Givenchy into one of the most coveted brands on the market, even presenting her first standalone menswear collection for the label in January 2019. In addition, she also won the British Designer of the Year – Womenswear award at the prestigious Fashion Awards.
It is safe to say that Clare Waight Keller has experience like no other, and will only continue to grow Givenchy throughout the upcoming seasons through her unique and refined approach.