When Did Women Start Designing Men’s Clothes?
Designing clothing for men is historically not a field that has been associated with women. However, since the mid-1940s, female fashion designers began to gain traction in the traditionally male-dominated field. The following is an overview of when women started to design men’s clothing and how they paved the way for fashion designers that followed.
The First Wave of Female Fashion Designers
The first wave of female fashion designers began to break through in the mid-1940s, when Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli became the two top names in fashion. They were the first to disrupt the status quo of a traditionally male-dominated field and paved the way for female designers to make their mark.
Chanel is credited with introducing the long, lean macho look for men with her designs for the ‘24 Hours’ collection. Schiaparelli was also known for her uniquely masculine creations. Along with their contemporaries, these two designers are credited with setting the tone for women to design fashionable men’s clothing.
Gaining Momentum in the 1960s
The 1960s saw a surge in female designers gaining attention and popularity in the fashion industry. Mary Quant was one of the most prominent figures of the time. Quant was known for her designs for men and women alike, a combination of androgynous silhouettes and innovative uses of colour, prints and fabrics.
Designers such as Issey Miyake and Yves Saint Laurent also emerged during this period, pioneering in their own unique styles. William de la Renta, another prominent designer, was commissioned by US President John F. Kennedy to design a tie for his inauguration in 1961.
Contributions from Contemporary Designers
In recent years, female fashion designers have continued to make their mark in the men’s clothing space. Some of the most recognizable names include:
- Tom Ford – Tom Ford’s name is synonymous with luxury, modern menswear. His use of luxurious fabrics and attention to detail have made him one of the most sought-after designers.
- Vivienne Westwood – Westwood is a British designer who helped to define the ‘punk’ look in the 1970s. She continues to influence male fashion trends with her rebellious, alternative styles.
- Dolce & Gabbana – Dolce & Gabbana are two of the most recognizable names in fashion and are credited with inventing the “Sicilian-inspired” look for men with their signature bold prints and vibrant colour combinations.
- Sarah Burton – Sarah Burton is the Creative Director of the iconic British brand Alexander McQueen. She has won accolades for her dark, dramatic forms that remain true to the House’s legacy.
Female fashion designers have been instrumental in pushing the boundaries in men’s fashion and creating timeless pieces that have helped to define what it means to dress like a man. It all began with Coco Chanel and her contemporaries, who paved the way for female designers to make their mark in what was once a male-dominated field.
The influence of female fashion designers remains strong today as more and more design houses hire women to lead the way in innovative designs that don’t compromise on quality or style.