The definition of what it means to be a woman is constantly evolving. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we look back at the young creatives, leading designers and iconic stars that continue to shine, marked by their new appointments, international recognition and most importantly, the ability to inspire. Even in a world riddled with challenges and uncertainty, these women continued to achieve the best in what they most believed in.
Gabriella Hearst at the helm of two leading fashion houses
When Gabriela Hearst was announced the new artistic director of Chloé, it cemented the powerful direction towards sustainability that even the oldest French fashion houses in the world are headed for. The Uruguayan, New York-based designer’s statement-making conscious approach, where she uses deadstock materials, eco-friendly fabrics and recycled yarns whenever she can, also won her the latest CFDA’s Womenswear Designer prize. For her debut show at Chloé—which came soon after her autumn/winter 2021 collection for her namesake label—Hearst left no room for compromise in the short time window. “The easy part was stopping the use of any viscose or polyester fabrics. Then we replaced the cotton lining in the bags with linen because it requires a lot less water. For the jewellery and metallic pieces, we reduced the galvanisation process by selecting one gold and one silver across all collections,” she told Vogue.
Priyanka Chopra’s appointment as British Fashion Council’s ambassador of positive change
Even in a world halted by the pandemic, Priyanka Chopra is a force to be reckoned with. In the past few months alone, the star had a Netflix release, launched her memoir Unfinished, unveiled her own hair care brand, along with championing other causes. Early on in the lockdown in 2020, boosted the cause of female-founded businesses by spotlighting 15 Indian fashion labels on her Instagram account that now has a reach of over 60 million. Then, the global star concluded the year with her announcement as the new ambassador of positive change for the British Fashion Council. For the virtual edition of the Fashion Awards 2020, she stepped into her new role to present the Community Award to five individuals making a positive impact on fashion communities, wearing an outfit from Bengaluru-born designer Kaushik Velendra.
Priya Ahluwalia’s big Queen Elizabeth II Award win
Priya Ahluwalia has made her mark by repurposing textiles that already exist into gender-agnostic clothing and even published her work documenting the enormous quantities of secondhand clothes and textile waste early on in her career. For her approach to upcycled fashion and inclusive representation, the Indian-Nigerian designer received the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design in a webinar. “You have to implement positive change and good practice at every level. So I think it will take a while, but they [big brands] can look at their own inventories, what they have left over, and look at who they can bring in to rework that,” she said in the ceremonial conversation with Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
Anita Dongre and her women empowerment endeavours with UN Women
Anita Dongre’s fashion is much more than what meets the eye. At the helm of one of India’s biggest fashion houses, the designer and entrepreneur is constantly championing environmental and cultural sustainability through her business. As her couture and conscious clothing lines focus on uplifting the lives of remote women-led artisan communities in Gujarat, the designer joined hands with UN Women to provide power skills to women in Maharashtra. In association with the global organisation and X-Billion Skills Lab, a social enterprise for enhancing workplace intelligence, Dongre announced in 2020 that her support to providing women will extend to those from disadvantaged backgrounds the workplace skills required to be employed, such as emotional intelligence, creative thinking, entrepreneurship and problem solving.
Margaret Zhang leading one of the most-read editions of Vogue
Margaret Zhang, the Australian-born Chinese fashion multi-hyphenate, was announced Vogue China’s new editor-in-chief. She’s the youngest EIC in Vogue history at only 28, replacing the Chinese publication’s founding editor, with 1.2 million followers on her personal Instagram account. But beyond numbers, Zhang’s appointment marks a generational shift, as well as fashion’s conscious move to a tech-savvy, diverse group of leaders. With a successful fashion blog launched in 2009, “multi-platform digital expertise wide-ranging interests” indicate the future for the legacy title, as noted by Anna Wintour, the chief content officer of Condé Nast.
Stella McCartney’s A-Z sustainability manifesto
In a moment during the lockdown, Stella McCartney began asking herself deep questions. It grew into the McCartney A to Z Manifesto, a map of all value systems that stand for the brand. ‘A for Accountable’, ‘C for Conscious’, ‘O for Organic’, and so on, arrived with the spring/summer 2021 collection, Stella McCartney Eco Impact Report for 2018/19 disclosing operational costs, emissions, waste creations and mission statements. “Having been in fashion for 20 years, I have been thinking a lot about our wider impact. How can we reduce what we produce? How can we do more with less? How can we be truly zero waste?” she explained.
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