The cork wiggles out of the Rioja with a carnival pop, and we pour a few glasses in preparation for a meal that’s only in our minds, a lovely affair where we would meet some superb designers from decades past. The guest list would be filled with a circus of influential figures chosen for their colorful personalities, interesting lives, and impact on the limbic system of fashion. And, we invited you, of course. So, please take a seat and join us as we give out guest list one last glance!
10. Augusta Bernard (1886-1940) – Little is known of Bernard. However, she was one of the premier designers of her day; in 1932, Vogue named one of her designs ‘the most beautiful dress of the year.’ It goes without saying that we’d love to know more about her enigmatic life.
9. Jean DessÃ¨s (1904-1970) – “What was it like training Valentino and Guy Laroche?” “Was it scary leaving your law studies to pursue fashion?” “Tell us about your childhood in Egypt and your exciting travels!” Such would be the sorts of things we’d ask of Jean if ever we were to meet him.
8. Thea Porter (1927-2000) – Between her extensive travels, childhood in the Middle East, and expulsion from the Royal Holloway College, this designer of luxurious kaftans would have plenty of interesting stories to share.
7. Jacques Doucet (1852-1929) – Doucet was a designer known for his sumptuous, 18th-century-inspired creations, and was a favorite of Sarah Bernhardt. If we were to become acquainted with this grand gentleman, we wouldn’t forget to ask for a tour of his impressive art collection, which included the likes of Picasso.
6. Valentina (c.1899-1989) – Born in Russia, but forced to flee during the Bolshevik Revolution, this admirable woman, who had been trained in theater and was also a noted costume designer, set up shop in NYC and was known for rejecting the mainstream clothes of the ’20s for long gowns and other garments that fit her fancy.
5. Emilio Pucci (1914-1992) – Who could resist meeting the man behind a world of lively, colorful patterns reportedly inspired by medieval Italian flags? Not us. We bet that Pucci’s life – son of an old Florentine family of nobles, member of the Italian Olympic Ski Team, holder of a degree in poli sci from Reed College – would keep us intrigued for hours on end.
4. Rose Bertin (1747-1813) – Receiving the nickname of “Minister of Fashion” is no paltry accomplishment. Yet, Rose, who came from a background of little wealth, managed to work her way into this position and was also the most revered designer for Marie Antionette.
3. Charles Worth (1826-1895) – Often credited as the person who ‘invented’ haute couture, no price can be put of Worth’s worth in the fashion world. He designed for Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, and was the first designer to both label his clothes and create designs to be displayed and copied, instead of letting customers direct the creation of a garment.
2. Mariano Fortuny (1871-1949) – Accomplished painter, inventor of an early dimmer switch, master etcher and sculptor, and creator of the Delphos gown, this Spanish-born designer has a list of accomplishments longer than Rapunzel’s coif.
1. Coco Chanel (1883-1971) – Roots in a poor working class family and being orphaned at a young age didn’t stop this determined designer from making it big. Although she originally hoped to be a singer, Chanel, an interesting personality who invented a fictitious account of her childhood, found immortal fame in fashion.
Which fashion aficionado would you most like to meet?