Some of the world’s oldest and most powerful fashion houses remain as influential as ever, thanks to the talent and strategy of fierce females who have joined the family business. While their relatives may have started these now famous businesses, these powerhourse females are responsible for keeping them running strong.
Read on for how 5 women saves their family’s fashion business.
When Gianni Versace passed away suddenly and tragically, it was revealed that he left 20 per cent of his famed fashion label to his sister, Donatella. Donatella, of course, was already a familiar fixture in the company, having served as her brother’s muse and helped in the clothing design starting in the late 1970s. By the 1980s, she had become the head designer for Versace’s Versus line and was the company’s creative director at the time of Gianni’s death. Donatella has kept the brand strong ever since and continues to serve as an involved creative director after Versace’s purchase by Michael Kors in 2018 for $2.12 billion. Most recently, Donatella debuted her Fall/Winter 2020 collection last month in Milan during Fashion Week.
Miuccia Prada was a late twenties-something mime student, feminist, and member of the Italian Communist Party in 1978 when she took over her family’s luggage business, which had fallen somewhat stagnant. It didn’t take long for the unlikely candidate to make a name for herself in the fashion world and revamp the company with a line of black nylon handbags and backpacks in 1985. Of course, the rest is history for Prada, and not only did the luxury fashion house expand its offerings to include shoes, ready-to-wear, and perfumes, it’s now a billion dollar company. Last month, Prada announced the appointment of Belgian designer Raf Simons as the company’s co-creative director.
Angela Missoni is the powerhouse creative director and president of Missoni, the beloved knitwear brand known for its psychedelic patterns that her parents Ottavio and Rosita Missoni started in 1953. Angela took over the role of creative director from her mother and debuted her first line for the brand in 1997. Her designs are credited for revitalizing the company and kicking off a long period of success, including an expansion into the hotel industry. Last month in Milan, Angela sent a youthful and vibrant co-ed collection down the runway. Keeping it in the family, Angela’s daughter Margherita acts as Creative Director, designs Missoni’s accessories, and is being groomed as her mother’s successor.
Silvia Venturini Fendi’s grandparents founded the storied Italian Fendi fashion house in Rome in 1925. Young Silvia’s first formal role with the company came in the mid-1980s when she launched the brand’s secondary label, “Fendissime.” By 1992, she was asked to join her mother Anna and Karl Lagerfeld in the main creative studio. Among career highlights, Silvia created the iconic “it” handbag in 1997, when she debuted Fendi’s Baguette handbag. After Fendi’s creative director Lagerfeld’s death in 2019, Fendi looked within the family to fill his shoes and promoted Silvia to the role from her former position of head of menswear, accessories and children. Last month, the designer made headlines in Milan with a feminine yet feminist and age-inclusive collection. She is the only family member still working for the business.
When Salvatore Ferragamo – once called Hollywood’s “shoemaker to the stars” – passed away in 1960, his widow, the late Wanda Ferragamo, took over his shoe-design and manufacturing business with the help of her children. At a time when the belief was that a woman belonged in the kitchen, this was a hugely notable undertaking, especially because she’s been credited with expanding the business into the fashion empire it is today, despite having no experience in business or design aside from observing her husband. Wanda took the brand beyond shoes, adding handbags, scarves, accessories, and ready-to-wear clothing to the mix, creating an influential brand now run by her six children and their children.
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