10 “Seasoned” Fashion Designers for the 21st Century

Tommy Hilfiger
Giorgio Armani
Donna Karan
Diane Von Furstenberg
Photo
By LORI WYNNE
Posted
Age is something only in your head or a stereotype. Age means nothing when you are passionate about something.”
Carolina Herrera

Being passionate about fashion is not just for the young. Those who have spent their lives honing their skill and sharing it with the world create true fashion. See the list below of ‘seasoned’ fashion designers who are still setting the standard in the fashion world. They are true examples of expanding their creativity beyond clothing to art, writing, interior design and philanthropic endeavors.

Giorgio Armani 82, started his world-renowned career in fashion in his native Italy. He freelanced for many design houses creating menswear. In 1975, he presented his first collection of men and women’s ready-to-wear line under his own name. His creative talents have been used to design clothing for Lady Gaga’s stage costumes, Olympians, interiors for his own line of hotels and resorts. Armani has a retail network of 60 Giorgio Armani boutiques, 11 Collezioni, 122 Emporio Armani, 94 A/X Armani exchange, 1 Giorgio Armani Accessori and 13 Armani Junior stores spread over 37 different countries.

Manolo Blahnik 73, the famous shoe-designer hales from Spain and learned to make shoes by watching his mother. He never went to shoe design school but watched pattern cutters and technicians in shoe factories. He brought back the stiletto heel during the 1970s when chunkier designs were popular. It has since become a classic. He still designs every shoe himself. His brand is a part of pop culture, mentioned in songs and television shows such as Sex in the City. Blahnik states, “Men tell me that I’ve saved their marriages. It costs them a fortune in shoes, but it’s cheaper than a divorce. So I’m still useful, you see.” Add a pair of Campari pumps or Chaos sandals to your Christmas gift list this year. Oh the luxury!

Diane von Furstenberg 69, Belgium-born and a princess by marriage, von Furstenberg worked in Paris as a fashion photographer’s assistant. Later she worked in Italy as an apprentice for a textile manufacturer. In this factory she learned about cut, color and fabric. It was there she designed her first silky jersey dress. In 1974 she introduced her knit-jersey wrap dress in New York. The design became such a success in women’s fashion, it is in the collection of Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Due to the phenomenal success of the dress design, she was featured on the cover of Newsweek in 1976. She relaunched her well-fitting design in 1997 to a new generation. I always recommend a classic figure flattering jersey wrap dress for my clients who travel for business or who are transitioning between sizes. Her brand holds its value and can be found in consignment stores for budget savvy shoppers.  

Carolina Herrer a 77, a Venezuelan designer who began her career in New York, has been dressing celebrities for decades. First ladies, from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama, have worn her classic and feminine designs. She celebrates the female figure by adding luscious fabrics, unique trim details and fluid hemlines to her evening wear designs. Every season she includes a crisp white blouse in her newest line.

Tommy Hilfiger 65, is an American designer who founded his lifestyle brand in 1985. His preppy clothing line for menswear has been extremely popular in the past few decades, and his empire and popularity continues to grow with the addition of a women’s line, fragrances and lifestyle books. Hilfiger states, “If I see someone wearing Hilfiger it makes me proud, but then I wonder what I could do to make the style more relevant for them next year?” Keep it coming, Tommy!

Donna Karan 67, started with Anne Klein label after design school in the 1960s. She became head designer after the death of Klein in 1974. In 1984, she left Klein and started her own line of “modern clothes for modern people.” Karan became well known for her Essentials line of related clothing pieces that mixed and matched. In 1988, she created DKNY for the younger generation and has seen incredible success in men and women’s clothing around the world.  

Calvin Klein 74, is an American who designed a line of tight fitting jeans in 1974 that launched him into the mainstream. His eponymous line has expanded to men and women’s wear, fragrances, cosmetics and home collections. Klein’s clean lines still outfit many businesswomen with easy-care classics at an affordable price.

Ralph Lauren 76, made his mark in men’s fashion by designing neckties and selling them in New York. In 1972 he unveiled his first Ralph Lauren collection of women’s clothing and also his iconic short–sleeved polo shirts. The first line was available in 24 colors. Either you own one or someone from your past does. Lauren says, “I have always been inspired by the dream of America — families in the country, weathered trucks and farmhouses; sailing off the coast of Maine; following dirt roads in an old wood-paneled station wagon; a convertible filled with young college kids sporting crew cuts and sweatshirts and frayed sneakers.”
Generations of families and Olympians are still wearing his classic Americana style.

Gloria Vanderbilt 92, was born a Vanderbilt and is the mother of Anderson Cooper. Beyond famous family genes, her signature jeans with embroidered swan logo on the back pocket revealed in 1976 became a fashion staple for many women. She launched a line of women’s clothing, housewares, shoes and accessories. She is an artist and a writer who regularly contributes to New York Times, Vanity Fair and Elle magazine.

Vera Wang 67, is a New Yorker of Chinese descent. She worked for Vogue magazine and Ralph Lauren before becoming an independent wedding dress designer. Both Democrats and Republicans appreciate her designs. She has designed dresses for Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump! Recently, she has made some of her designs more affordable for the masses by creating a line of wedding dresses for David’s Bridal.

These designers are wonderful examples of people who have stayed current in an ever-evolving industry by remaining passionate about fashion and honingtheir creative talents in a variety of ways and sharing it with the world.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren. ■

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