Three Women Who Innovated Fashion
Fashion has always been a revolutionary and evolving practice amongst all cultures, creeds and the sexes. It is in women’s fashion where some of the most intriguing innovations have occurred and Women’s History Month is the perfect time to highlight the fun, creative and progressive innovators that have and are changing women’s fashion.
Married at 14 and Queen at 19, Marie Antoinette was considered
the most beautiful and fashionable, hated woman in France in the mid to late 1700’s. She quickly became “scandalous” as upon her arrival to France to marry the future King Louis XVI, she refused to wear her corset. During her younger years, Marie Antoinette was known as the first ever shopaholic devoting her life to fashion as she was not allowed to dabble into politics.
As she became a mother, her fashion matured and she wanted more simple and flowing dresses which became known as “The Queen’s Shirt”. This was a societal problem because Queens were not allowed to wear a “maid’s dress”.
Marie Antoinette’s legacy in fashion has continued to thrive after her death. To this day, she is still a fashion icon and her style inspires the greatest courtiers of the world like John Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld.
The Kept Woman
Coco Chanel, whose real name is Gabrielle was the innovator of comfort in women’s fashion. Chanel is the basis of sportswear (sportswear in the fashion world is what is worn during the day, not clothes you wear to play sports).
This innovation began with a dress she made out of jersey fabric. It was from this jersey dress that Chanel’s business expanded. In the 1920’s, The Suit was created by Coco which she modeled after a man’s suit looking for comfort which was the complete opposite of the trends of that time. Another innovation and my ultimate favorite is The Little Black Dress, a staple in today’s closet. With the creative mind of Karl Lagerfeld Chanel is still on top as a multi-million dollar luxury business and one of today’s most recognizable luxury brands with their signature strands of pearls, quilted purses and yes, The Suit.
“Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury”. – Coco Chanel
It is amazing what you can do today with technology and because of it fashion is evolving and opportunities are growing all because of innovators like Shannon Whitehead Lohr. For the past year, I am proud to say that I have been working with Shannon, the founder and CEO of Factory 45, an avenue to take idea to launch for sustainable fashion companies being produced in the Unites States. We are currently living in an environmental crisis and many fashionistas, entrepreneurs and consumers are taking action through the fashion industry to find solutions to the problem. After starting her own sustainable clothing company, Shannon realized that there was a need to assist other fashion brands that wanted to accomplish the same ethical and sustainable practices she strives to achieve.
Factory45 is the result of that idea and Shannon has now worked with over 150 companies to help accomplish their goals. “She’s been named thought leader for the future of fashion by Ecouterre and Triple Pundit”. As a fashion innovator, I asked Shannon if she could share a few thoughts with us. I asked her 5 questions and her responses are below.
• Do you see yourself as a woman who has made a positive impact today?
I like to think so. I’m not perfect, by any means, but in every decision I make I’m conscious of doing what I believe is right.
• Who was the woman you wanted to emulate as you set out to accomplish your goals?
I don’t think there was one woman in particular who I idolized or tried to emulate — I think I mostly just set out to be a woman that I could personally respect. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror everyday and be proud of the person I’ve become and for me, that means having integrity and doing what I say I’m going to do.
It’s really important to me to be a woman that can be relied on, is level headed, down to earth and relatable. I don’t want to ever be an “internet celebrity” or “guru” — I just want to be someone who helps other people create beautiful and conscious products.
• Where would you like to see women’s roles in the future and is it up to us to truly seek equality?
Equal pay and paid maternity leave would be a start. I’m lucky to have worked for myself my entire career so although it doesn’t directly affect me, it’s something that I still feel very strongly about.
And I don’t believe it’s solely up to us, as women, to seek equality. The majority of positions of power are made up of men, so where does that leave us? You can only get so far when you’re slogging through mud on a 90 degree slope. Both men and women need to be apart of the solution — and there are no excuses not to be.
I believe being a feminist should be a non-partisan position.
• There are a number of sex strikes throughout history that were successful. With today’s clout over sexism and women’s rights, should we as a mass conduct in sex strikes to “wake people up” about the reality of sexism in America today?
Sure. I’m all for thinking outside the box and doing whatever we can to bring attention to the movement. The Women’s March and #DayWithoutAWoman were great starts and have definitely helped to enliven the conversation.
• Do you have words of advice for younger women who seek a need for equality?
Don’t be apathetic. My fellow white women can use their privilege to help our minority sisters, and we shouldn’t be afraid to. Speak out when you see instances of injustice and don’t shut down. There are a lot of reasons to be silent, but there are even more reasons to be on the right side of history.
“Marie-Antoinette, Queen of Fashion | Girls Guide to Paris. “N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 20017.
“Marie Antoinette.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 28 Oct. 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
“Coco Chanel.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 10 Jan 2017. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
“Home.” Shannon Lohr. N.p., n.d.Web. 16 Mar. 2017