Female Fashion Masterminds

model wearing chanel jewerly with chanel flap bag FASHIONPHILE

Let’s talk about the women behind some of our best-selling handbags!


For National Women’s History Month, it’s worth noting these formidable, fabulous, and yes — female — contributors to our favorite pieces.

Coco Chanel of Chanel

She’s an icon. A legend. Closer to a demi-goddess than a mere female. The question is, why?

For one, Chanel is the epitome of an anomaly; a woman who created her own path (and was wildly successful at it) in a time when that seemed a near impossibility, both in terms of gender equality and the trying nature of the era she lived through. What’s more, she did it with a characteristic feminine flair, reimagined in a stunningly assertive tweed suit (more on the wonder that was Coco Chanel here).

It’s her unapologetic ultra-feminine approach that has made bags like Chanel Classic Flap and Chanel Boy Flap (in their many iterations) literally timeless.

Donatella Versace of Versace

Do you know the story of Donatella? It’s intriguing, mysterious, and not without its tragedy — a tale fit for a woman of her stature. Versace wasn’t created by Donatella herself, but by her brother Gianni.

While she wasn’t the “birth mother”, she was said to be the primary muse. She was extremely close with her brother, and worked within the company in various capacities, including as a designer, during his lifetime. When he became sick with cancer, she essentially ran the business herself for over a year.

She was devastated when he died tragically and unexpectedly and was left with an inheritance that was equally overwhelming: part ownership of the brand, along with other family members. She ran the business for nearly twenty years after, eventually shifting to the role of Chief Creative Director.

A self-proclaimed “maximalist”, she favors leather, gold hardware, plunging necklines, and bold, luxe color — evidence by best-selling pieces featuring the Virtus V emblem, and the iconic Medusa.

This may not come as such a surprise, but she’s also quite the feminist — when asked what issue more people should be talking about, and who she admires most, to both she answered simply, “women.”

Gabriela Hearst of Chloe

Pretty sure if someone said Gabriela Hearst was a model, nobody would second guess it. Her beauty is striking, unique and, well — she photographs fantastically. Even still, that’s the least of her skills.

The Uruguayan fashion designer (now based in New York) is widely known for her namesake label featuring luxury ready-to-wear and accessories — though she most recently made headlines for her role as the new Creative Director at Chloe. The reason for her appointment? Aside from her clear talent, it likely has to do with her commitment to sustainability.

Together with CEO Riccardo Bellini, she’s taking active measures to make Chloe the most sustainable luxury brand in the world, complete with a B Corps status and an advisory board that will hold Chloe accountable for their sustainability goals.

Her first collection for FW21 was recently presented this month. To no surprise her approach centered around greater sustainability efforts. And as far as handbags are concerned, Chloe is practically unrecognizable; we can expect to see a lot of patchworks, braided details, and gorgeous earth-tones for fall/ winter.

Gabriela represents another beautiful example of how women so naturally blend utility with passion — it’s a matter of inclusion, flexibility, and an open mind.

product image of Chloe Small Fringe Hudson Shoulder Bag

Phoebe Philo of Celine

When the announcement came that Phoebe Philo would be exiting her decade-long stint at Celine (and Heid Slimane taking over), fans could barely contain themselves. “What will we wear now?” the internet cried collectively. The lament was loud and languishing.

As Vogue so eloquently said in a statement released shortly thereafter, “Phoebe is a proven genius for tuning into the intuitions of a generation—she’s acted as lightning conductor of the female energy of the times, twice over.” Well said.

In that relatively short time, she birthed into our world pieces we now cannot live without the Luggage Tote, the aptly named Classic Box, and the perhaps slightly lesser-known yet deliciously quirky Trapeze (all explored in further detail here).

Phoebe has made her mark on fashion, on our hearts, and likely on our closets for as long as luxury goods prevail (which let’s hope is forever).

Stella McCartney of Stella McCartney

Let’s face it: as the daughter of Sir Paul McCartney, Stella was bound to have creativity rippling through her veins from day one. Having her own label may be the closest thing to destiny, evidenced by her one-of-kind design sensibility and wildly successful namesake label.

In true McCartney fashion (no pun intended), Stella is known for her originality and her willingness to go against the grain. She’s equally known for doing what works and doesn’t shy away from seeking solutions to the grittier issues that surround fashion: like the fact that it’s one of the top contributors to pollution in the world.

Long before it was actually fashionable, she was busy creating fur-free and leather-free collections that managed to exude luxury without its ritual shadow.

Her commitment to sustainability will no doubt be one of her legacies — along with her balance of creativity (re: the Shaggy Deer Falabella line) and practicality (re: the Eco Alter Perforated Logo line).

Her latest work for the Autumn 2021 collection features “sporty, sustainable optimism”, using her platform and influence to push what’s needed most — healthier bodies, healthier minds, and (definitely) a healthier planet.

These women (and more) have contributed to fashion in incredible ways. Shop our collection of pre-owned handbags and accessories from all these female fashion masterminds at FASHIONPHILE.com
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