Vera Wang, 62
Vera Wang is the most well-known designer in the luxury bridal industry. A woman of Chinese descent, she is a native New Yorker whose early career in fashion included being a senior fashion editor for Vogue magazine. After 16 years, she left the publication after Anna Wintour, the current editor-in-chief, was chosen for the position she would have liked.
She began designing for Ralph Lauren before launching her own collection in 1990. In 2005, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) named Wang the “Womenswear Designer of the Year”. She is married to her husband of 23 years and has two children. Her bridal and contemporary collections are closely watched and praised. Her name recognition has recently allowed her to expand into home textiles and tableware.
“When I decided to get married at 40, I couldn’t find a dress with the modernity or sophistication I wanted. That’s when I saw the opportunity for a wedding gown business.”
“I’m not a girl who spends my life in a ballgown… Clothing is as much about lifestyle as art.”
“To me, eyewear goes way beyond being a prescription. It’s like makeup. It’s the most incredible accessory. The shape of a frame or the color of lenses can change your whole appearance.”
“Don’t be afraid to take time to learn. It’s good to work for other people. I worked for others for 20 years. They paid me to learn.”
“A woman is never sexier than when she is comfortable in her clothes.”
Miuccia Prada, 63
As the youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, the founder of the Prada fashion label, Miuccia was born in Milan, Italy. She is most known for taking her grandfather’s fashion house, which was dwindling both financially and style-wise, and turning it into one of the top designer labels worldwide. Along with her husband and CEO of the company, Patrizio Bertelli, Miuccia has built the Prada company so that it is now worth an estimated $13 billion dollars. Forbes magazine ranked her as #79 in their list of the world’s most powerful women.
Miuccia is the lead designer of the Prada fashion line, as well as her diffusion line “Miu Miu” which is slightly more affordable and caters to a younger audience.
“Enough of sweetness, women need to get out there and fight again.”
“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.”
Diane von Furstenberg, 65
Diane von Furstenberg is most know for her famous wrap-dress, which has been a must-have for many wardrobes. It is thought to be universally flattering on all figures. The designer’s label (known as DVF) began in 1970 and in 2005, the CFDA gave her their coveted lifetime achievement award.
Von Furstenberg was born in Belgium to a Romanian father and a Greek mother who was also a Holocaust survivor. Her first husband, Prince Egon von Furstenberg, gave her the title of “Princess Diane von Furstenberg”. They divorced in 1972. She married Barry Diller, the media mogul, in 2001. She became a naturalized citizen in 2002. Together they are very active in philanthropic and political causes. In 2010, they created the DVF Awards presented annually to four women displaying courage and leadership.
She has two children from her first marriage, Alexander von Furstenberg and Tatiana von Furstenberg, and lives in New York City.
“When a woman becomes her own best friend, life is easier.”
“The biggest mistake a woman can make is not to be herself in public or private.”
“I design for the woman who loves being a woman. ”
“There’s no success without frustration.”
Carolina Herrera, 73
Born Maria Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Nino, Carolina Herrera is a naturalized American who is originally from Venezuela. She has been a strong force in the luxury fashion industry since her company was founded in New York in 1980. Her designs are especially praised for their graceful femininity. Her designs have been worn by well known women from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Renee Zellweger.
Herrera has since won several awards including The International Center of New York’s Award of Excellence, the Gold Merit in the Fine Arts award in Spain, and the CFDA’s “Womenswear Designer of the Year’ (2004) and the “Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award” (2008). She is also an ambassador for Goodwill. She’s been married to her second husband since 1968 and has four children.
“I don’t think women need another black bag. Everybody has a black bag already, so I thought this season (needs) color.”
“I want women to really look like women from today. It’s not from the past and not from the future, because I don’t know what happens in the future. It is the women of today (who) I think is a seductive woman.”
“The women of the 1940s were very elegant and very glamorous… I took some hints of it and I showed a collection that is very ladylike.”
“I’ve had work done on my eyes in the past. However, I think there are limits. I wouldn’t ever have too much done as it looks unnatural, and I don’t think you should do anything to your lips as it changes the entire shape of your face.”
Donna Karan, 63
Donna Karan, owner of the fashion labels “Donna Karan New York” and “DKNY”, is a household name around the world, but especially in the U.S. The Queens, NY-born designer started her career in the 1960s working for Anne Klein before branching out to start her own label. She became famous for her collection of seven easy pieces of clothing, which she called “the essentials”. Her mission was to design modern fashion that would be easy for people to mix-and-match.
Over the past few years, the animal rights group PETA accused her in 2008 of using fur in her clothing lines. The dispute has continued. Nonetheless, she is one of the most respected designers. She has won numerous industry awards and is widely distributed. Karan currently lives in New York. She is a widow and has one daughter, Gabrielle.
“Accent your positive and delete your negative.”
“Evening is a time of real experimentation. You never want to look the same way.”
“Today, fashion is really about sensuality – how a woman feels on the inside. In the eighties women used suits with exaggerated shoulders and waists to make a strong impression. Women are now more comfortable with themselves and their bodies – they no longer feel the need to hide behind their clothes.”