For more than 65 years, French fashion house Simone Pérèle has been regarded as a ‘fashion revolutionary’. By listening to the needs of women’s bodies and responding with innovative designs, Madame Pérèle defied conventions for the time. Creations like the Sunray dart bra and the introduction of broader size ranges have inspired design creatives to challenge the status quo.
Throughout the 40’s and 50’s in particular, Simone Pérèle and her contemporaries led the charge for innovation. Whether they designed the clothes or acted as a muse, these six female fashion revolutionaries influenced style as we know it.
French haute couture designer, Jeanne Lanvin, was one of the first to identify the potential in creating a lifestyle brand. What began as Lanvin sewing beautiful dresses for her daughter, grew in popularity as wealthy women began requesting pieces for their own daughters. After launching her children’s label, Lanvin quickly branched out into womenswear, home design and perfume.
Leading French couturier and costume designer Madame Grès, founded former haute couture fashion house “Grès.” Recognised for her simplistic draping techniques, this skill soon garnered her the title “Sphinx of Fashion.” With her elite clientele including Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich, Madame Grès is often remembered for creating delicate pleated dresses.
Queen of the bias cut, Madeleine Vionnet paved the way for present day designers with her elegant Grecian-style dresses. Her contribution to contemporary fashion includes the handkerchief dress, cowl neckline and the halter top. Vionnet’s designs moved effortlessly with the women that wore them and have since inspired collections by John Galliano, Issey Miyake and Marchesa.
Listed as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century, French fashion designer Coco Chanel has had an unparalleled influence on modern fashion. Chanel liberated women from the constraints of the corseted silhouette, designing her iconic tweed jacket for this very purpose. The Chanel jacket is now considered one of fashion’s most revolutionary pieces.
Long considered one of Coco Chanel’s greatest rivals, Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in fashion between WWI and WWII. One of Schiaparelli’s most well-known collaborations was with surrealist artist Salvador Dali to produce iconic garments including the shoe hat and skeleton dress.
Fashion icon Brigitte Bardot is often remembered for her long, tousled locks, Breton stripes and ballet flats. This paired back uniform pushed the fashion envelope and positioned her as a certified bombshell. Not only considered a sex symbol of the 50’s and 60’s, Brigitte has since been credited with popularising the risqué two-piece bikini and the ‘Bardot’ neckline.