Women Who are Breaking New Ground, Breaking Barriers & Breaking the Internet

Women are an integral and valuable part of the fashion industry. On International Women’s Day, we take a look back at some of the many articles we have published over the years that spotlight some of the women that are carrying the fashion industry creatively, holding it accountable for its abuses, operating in behind-the-scenes capacities, and especially those that are responsible for making our clothes …

1. ELLE: The Making of a Modern Magazine. ELLE has never been one to focus exclusively on fashion. In 1945 when Hélène Gordon Lazareff, launched the native French publication alongside her husband Pierre Lazareff, founder of the French daily newspaper France-Soir, she set out to do things differently. This included advertising-free issues (an attempt to move away from the corporatization of publishing), consistent long-form journalism, and “a new tone,”

2. One of Fashion's Most Prominent Investors is Someone You May Never Have Heard of. In nearly every industry, a small number of powerful individuals tend to have their hands in an array of different inter-industry ventures, thereby dictating both the micro and macro course and narrative. In fashion, Bernard Arnault, François-Henri Pinault, and Johann Rupert, the respective chairmen of LVMH, Kering, and Richemont, come to mind immediately, as do the various publishing giants and venture capital notables. One name that surprisingly often goes unmentioned: Carmen Busquets.

3. How Amy Astley is Fashioning Architectural Digest for a New Generation. Amy Astley made headlines in May 2016 when she was appointed editor of Architectural Digest. Nothing if not an interesting move, Astley was holding court as the Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue, another Condé Nast-owned publication, when she was tasked with running the publishing giant's 97-year old interior design-focused magazine. 

4. Meet Lea T: Top Model, Givenchy Muse, Transgender Pioneer. Brazilian-born, Italian-raised Lea T has been widely considered “a trans pioneer” since she took the modeling industry by storm when she starred in Givenchy's Fall/Winter 2010 ad campaign, alongside Mariacarla Boscono, Cat McNeil, Malgosia Bela, and a handful of male models.

5. Lil' Kim: A Bona Fide Style Icon, But More Than Just a Force in Fashion. To be frank, she was “the first high-profile female rapper to flip the script on female objectification in the rap industry. She set herself apart by owning, weaponizing, and celebrating her unapologetic sexuality. The result was an unprecedented success which, to date, has sold more than six million copies worldwide.”

6. Fashion’s Push for #MeToo is Ignoring a Significant Number of Women. At a time when women-centric activism is at a high, the feminist movement continues to gain steam, particularly in the U.S., and hordes of women are speaking out in an attempt to help rid workplaces of the rampant culture of sexual harassment and other abuses, the fact that the fashion media continues to overlook the women in the supply chain – particularly in connection with fast fashion (the focus here is fast fashion, as this is the segment of the market where abuses are unequivocally the most frequent) – is problematic.

7. These Models Are Breaking Fashion's Racial Barriers. Maria Borges, the model who has fronted campaigns for Givenchy, Brandon Maxwell, H&M, L'Oreal, Sephora, and Tommy Hilfiger, is more than a pretty face. She is an agent for change. 

8. Delphine Arnault: The Quiet Force Charting a New Era for LVMH. “Very much in the mold of her father, Delphine Arnault delights in nurturing the creative sparks that fuel the industry, following design ideas through the multiple steps until they reach the sales floor.”

9. Model Cameron Russell Spearheads Effort to Discuss Abuses in Fashion. Determined to ensure that the sexual harassment that runs rampant throughout the fashion industry does not go undiscussed in light of increased attention to such abuses following the New York Times’ expose of film executive Harvey Weinstein, Cameron Russell is helping to call attention. 

10. Model Behavior: Anja Rubik Takes on Sex Ed in Ultra-Conservative Poland. In light of the Polish government’s increasingly restrictive agenda with regards to female reproductive rights (including a ban on abortions after 12 weeks), Anja Rubik is stepping in.

11. How Do You Go From Teen Glossy to Revolutionary Read? Ask Elaine Welteroth. The 31-year old editor helped change the status quo of the fashion industry, one that has long been known for its aspirational exclusivity and largely static standards of beauty.  

12. From the Big Screen to a Billion-Dollar Brand: How Jessica Alba Built the Honest Co. How do you go from the Hollywood big screen to the cover of Forbes, alongside the title “America’s Richest Self-Made Women,” for building a $1 billion brand, in under a decade? Ask Jessica Alba. The actress is one of the co-founders of Honest Co., a beloved consumer goods company that boasts a lineup of “101+ safe, effective and delightful products for baby, personal care, cleaning, vitamins and more,” but you likely already knew that.

13. Halima Aden: "Every Girl Deserves to See a Role Model That's Like Her." Aden is breaking barriers. Born in Kakuma, a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya, Aden came to the United States at age 7 with her family. 

14. Why do we all freak out about Prada? In turning her family's company into the globally-reaching brand that it is today, Miuccia Prada started small, first focusing her attention on updating the selection of accessories. As the New York Times put it not too long ago, "In 1978, she designed a black nylon rucksack that would later take the world by storm."

15. How Did Mary-Kate, Ashley Olsen Go from Celebrities to Legitimate Fashion Forces? “Very few celebrities are either so fascinating or appalling that they manage to get under our skins, as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have.”

16. Coco Capitán: Working with Gucci, Finding a Fan in Rihanna & Being a Female in the Art World. “The art world is challenging for everyone as any industry,” and as a woman, “you need to justify everything you do to exhaustion.”

17. Paris Jackson: “I Want to Change This Fashion/Beauty Stigma." Paris Jackson might be exactly what the fashion industry needs. A budding young activist, she wants to change the beauty standards being propagated by fashion.