Where They Were Then: Derek Lam
If you’re looking to understand the true definition of a boss, look no further than to Derek Lam. Considered an overnight success in the fashion world, the king of downtown chic makes heading up three—THREE!—labels look like a cakewalk. Here’s how he gets it done. —callia hargrove
1967 – The youngest of three, Derek is born March 25 in San Fran to Chinese-American parents. His beginnings are rooted in fashion—his grandparents run a successful garment factory specializing in bridal, and his parents have their own business, importing clothes from Asia.
1970 – As a kid, Derek spends his afternoons chatting up the seamstresses in the factory and gushing over wedding gowns on their way out the door.
1986 – After graduating from high school, Derek goes to Boston College and quickly decides it’s just not for him. He takes his talents to Parsons, where his pals include a pre-J.Crew Jenna Lyons.
1990 – Avoiding the whole post-college job-hunting thing, Derek is hired by Michael Kors right after graduation. He spends four years hustling as an assistant.
1994 – Getting back to his roots, Derek leaves Michael Kors for Hong Kong, where he lands a huge position at major Chinese retail brand, G2000.
1998 – When Michael Kors offers Derek a VP position, he hops back to the good ol’ US and brings some freshness to the line.
2002 – Ok, here we go: time for something of his own. Derek launches his namesake label out of his West Village apartment with only $380,000 and brings on his boyfriend Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann as his right hand man.
2003 – Derek’s first show, presented in a furniture gallery in the Meatpacking District, is a big, fat hit. Buyers from Barneys and Bergdorfs place orders immediately. A few months later, Derek wins the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation grant—that was quick.
2005 – In January, first daughter Jenna Bush wows in Derek Lam at her dad’s swearing-in. The same year, Derek wins both the CFDA Perry Ellis Award for Womenswear AND the Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund Award. Tod’s takes notice and calls on him to design a capsule collection.
2006 – Accessory time. Derek’s first handbag collection calls on the past, by way of Roman inspired hardware. Anna Wintour says the bags “took his line to a whole other level” and, naturally, everybody else agrees.
2007 – Wasting no time, Derek successfully enters into shoes and eyewear the next year. After winning the CFDA for Accessory Designer of the Year, Tod’s decides to make their relationship permanent, and names Derek its creative director.
2008 – After starring in 21, Kate Bosworth graces the cover of Vogue in a Lam satin number—the latest in a string of achievements that lead Labelux to take a huge stake in the company.
2011 – A move to a studio on Crosby Street prompts a less expensive line, 10 Crosby. Inspiration for the label comes from Derek’s cigarette-break observations of the girls bopping Soho locale, and Derek describes the 10 Crosby customer as his 20-year-old female alter ego.
2012 – Perhaps feeling inspired by one of his fans, Queen Bey, Derek goes all independent Woman and buys back his company from Labelux.
2013 – Only four months into 2013, Derek has already busted some major moves. Released barely a week ago, his crazy-affordable collab with Kohl’s has already been photographed on Blake Lively and Katherine McPhee. Not too shabby.
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Where They Were Then: Donna Karan
With multiple major labels and nearly a half-century of fashion-world experience, it would be an understatement to call Donna Karan a design powerhouse. This college dropout turned “Queen of Seventh Ave” has made a career of paying tribute to her city and keeping basics far from boring. Do a deep dive into her rise. —callia hargrove
1948 – Donna Ivy Faske is born on October 2nd in Queens, New York. Fashion is in her blood: Her mom Gaby is a model-slash-stylist, and her dad works for design legend Chester Weinberg.
1951 – Upon her mom’s remarriage to Harold Flaxman, a garmento, the family relocates to Long Island. Childhood aspiration: working at Women’s Wear Daily, as an illustrator.
1962 – Donna lies about her age to score a job at hometown hotspot, Sherry’s clothing store. After graduating early from Hewlett High, she heads to Parsons at age 17.
1966 – Parsons extra-curriculars: working for designer Chuck Howard and sketching for Liz Claiborne.
1967 – Donna joins Anne Klein as an intern for the summer. Anne is so impressed that she asks her to drop out of school and come to work for her full-time. Donna accepts…only to be fired a few months later for being too young and irresponsible.
1968 – Give up? Never. Donna picks up the pieces and heads to work with designer Patti Cappalli for 18 months while she gets her shit together. A heart-to-heart with Anne gets Donna her job back.
1973 – After tying the knot, Donna goes from Faske to Karan, c/o first husband Mark.
1974 – While pregnant, Donna’s doctor puts her on bed rest, and she wraps up the whole Anne Klein fall 1974 collection from home. Her daughter Gaby is born two days before Anne dies. Donna is chosen as Anne’s successor and brings on her BFF Louis Dell’Olio as her right-hand man.
1977 – Together Donna and Louis they win a Coty American Fashion Critics‘ Award—a damn big deal.
1982 – The early eighties bring Anne Klein II—a diffusion line—and a second husband, Stephan Weiss, a sculptor she meets on a blind date.
1984 – Coty Hall of Fame. BAM.
1985 – Wanting to branch out on her own, Donna launches Donna Karan New York. She becomes known for her bodysuits—it’s the mid-eighties, guys—and her essentials line: seven basics that can be mixed and matched to create a full wardrobe. The industry takes note and the hit-maker wins her first CFDA award—and takes home nods in 1986 and 1987, too.
1989 – Hello, DKNY. Inspired by Gaby, now 15, and her city, Donna creates the less expensive, downtown-chic line.
1990 – Reworking an American classic, DKNY heads into jean territory. Menswear and kids follow two years later.
1992 – Donna teams up with Estée Lauder to develop her first fragrance. She tells the developers to model the scent after Casablanca lilies, red suede…and the back of her husband’s neck. The same year, both Liza Minnelli and Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown!) don her “cold shoulder” dress during awards season. Cut-outs!
1993 – President Clinton chooses a Donna Karan power suit for his inauguration—and somehow ends up being twinsies with Barbra Streisand. Donna becomes the first woman to win the CFDA for menswear.
1998 – Vogue’s 100-year anni issue features Iman on the cover wearing head-to-toe Donna Karan.
2001 – After scoring a spot on the Fashion Walk of Fame, Donna sees a huge opportunity and sells both Donna Karan New York and DKNY to LVMH for a cool 600 mil.
2010 – Donna, a yoga obsessive and raw foodist for almost 10 years, starts up the Urban Zen Initiative to provide holistic healthcare to the less fortunate.
2013 – Still dominating, DKNY launches a throwback collection with Opening Ceremony, filled with remakes of nineties classics.
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Where They Were Then: Tom Ford
Tom Ford has helmed the sort of labels people sing about. See: Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” and the dozens of rappers who’ve name-dropped YSL. But what’s made the man such a star for 20-plus years? Here, the road from a Texas suburb to a label that bears his name. —callia hargrove
1961 – Tom Ford, Jr. is born on August 27th to a a pair of realtors in Austin, Texas. Favorite childhood pastime? Re-arranging his parents’ furniture, Ty Pennington-style.
1975 – Tom and his mom Shirley relocate to Santa Fe when he’s 11. Early on, she teaches him that “being badly dressed is disrespectful to others.” Taking his self-presentation seriously, at 14 gives himself a cucumber eye-treatment…only to discover he’s allergic, resulting in a dramatic trip to the ER.
1979 – At the ripe old age of 16, Tom leaves home to attend Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts. New England isn’t doing it for him, and he heads to NYU to study Art History. But that doesn’t really cut it either: He drops out and heads to Hollywood to become an actor. At one point, he has 12 TV commercials on the air at the same time.
1983 – After making some bank, Tom heads back to NYC to study architecture at Parsons. He balances studying with partying at the legendary Studio 54. The summer prior to his senior year, he interns at Chloé in Paris and is so inspired that he spends his last year studying fashion (but still matriculates with an Interior Architecture degree).
1985 – After graduation, Tom looks for his big fashion break, calling sportswear designer Cathy Hardwick every day for two months begging for an interview. It took a little BSing—so what that he graduated with an architecture degree and was just an intern at Chloé?—but he lands the job and works as her assistant for two years.
1986 – In a totally Romeo and Romeo tale, he meets Richard Buckley in the elevator at a fashion show. The two quickly become an item. Oh, P.S., Richard just so happens to be the fashion editor at WWD.
1988 – Tom heads to Perry Ellis, where one of his good friends from Studio 54, Marc Jacobs, is designing. He stays there for 2 years and then ditches the U.S. for Milan.
1990 – Gucci, in a dark period, is looking for someone to revamp its women’s ready-to-wear. Taking a major leap of faith, bigwig creative director Dawn Melo hires the virtually unknown Tom, who draws inspo from his Texan grandmas to bring a fresh spin to the dying brand.
1992 – Bam! Like a boss, Tom makes his mark—and starts doing more, more, MORE, designing menswear, creating fragrances, overseeing advertising, and even doing the interiors of all of Gucci’s stores. So, yes, that college education paid off.
1995 – Since Tom began his reign, sales at Gucci are up by 90%, and LVMH sees a huge opportunity. They acquire the house, and, by the end of 1999, the once-flailing brand is bringing in earnings of $4.3 billion.
1997 – Oh, he’s as good-looking as he is talented? People names Tom one of its 50 most beautiful people and makes it official.
1999 – Gucci just isn’t enough for Tom, ever the over-achiever. Under his leadership, the Gucci group acquires Yves Saint Laurent (yes, back when we were allowed to use the “Yves”). Ultimate seal of approval: After his first show for YSL, Tom’s mom is heard demanding a discount on the collection.
2001 – In his first bout with controversy, Tom creative-directs the ad campaign for Gucci’s new fragrance, Opium, starring redhead Sophie Dahl, who’s completely naked—well, you know, except for a necklace and sky-high stilettos. It’s banned in pretty much every country…but paves the way for other infamous Gucci ads. That same year, Tom nabs awards from the CFDA, GQ, and TIME mag.
2002 – Drama in the house. After the acquisition, Tom and the YSL team begin butting heads. Tom peaces out.
2003 – In the most shocking fashion announcement of the year, Tom reveals that he’s leaving the Gucci group. DVF, Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Karl Lagerfeld, and Stella McCartney attend his final show for YSL. That’s some mad designer respect.
2005 – Striking out on his own, Tom Ford launches his eponymous label. His first project: a collabo with Estée Lauder to create his own cosmetics line. Ladies go nuts for his super-luxe (and, ok, insanely expensive) lipsticks.
2006 – Vanity Fair asks Tom to guest-edit its Hollywood issue. His cover concept: Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson, and Rachel McAdams nekkid. Rachel McAdams nixes the idea, and Tom replaces her with…himself.
2009 – Undergoing, as he puts it, the “ultimate design project” of his life, he co-writes and directs his debut film, A Single Man, earning Colin Firth an Oscar nomination and winning an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
2010 – He MCs the presentation for his first Tom Ford women’s collection himself—and is overheard telling Queen Bey that she had definitely turned him straight.
2012 – This year is all about the leading men. Tom provides all of Daniel Craig’s costumes for the latest Bond, designs JT’s wardrobe for his “Suit & Tie” comeback, and welcomes a little bundle of joy named Alexander into his life.
2013 – A record number of U.S. buyers travel across the pond just to see T.F.’s first show in London Town—an indicator of just how major his influence on the fashion industry is.
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Where They Were Then: Stella McCartney
Nepotism? Not a part of this story. Stella McCartney may be from a famous brood, but don’t be fooled: This star is self-made. From designing those cooool British outfits for the Olympic opening ceremonies to collabing with just about every big name in the book, Stella has pretty much done it all. Get the scoop on her rise. —callia hargrove
1971 – On September 3, Stella is born…while her parents are touring with their post-Beatles band Wings. She is named after both of her maternal grandmothers.
1980 – When Stella turns nine, her parents decide that they want their kiddies to have a normal life. The answer: living on an organic farm.
1987 - Stella designs her first piece at age 13: a simple and tailored jacket.
1990 – Why not start paying your dues at 16? Stella interns for Ab Fab fave Christian Lacroix as he works on his first collection.
1995 – For her fashion showcase upon graduation from Central St. Martins College of Art & Design, she gets a few buddies to model: Naomi Campbell, Yasmin Le Bon, and Kate Moss. Dayum. The show makes front-page news, and the entire collection is sold to Tokio, an über-chic London boutique.
1996 – Stella opens her own shop in London. Her specialty: slip dresses and swishy silk skirts à la Cruel Intentions.
1997 – One day, a mystery man enters the store…who ends up being Mounir Moufarrige, president of Chloé. BAM, creative director. When she shows her first fall collection, with her signature clean lines and sexy silhouettes, she shuts down all of her haters, including Chloé’s previous HBIC Karl Lagerfeld.
2000 – After only five years in the industry, Stella earns herself a VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards 2000 Designer of the Year Award. The presenter: her dad.
2001 – Chloé for everyone! Or at least more people! Stella suggests a whole new division—See by Chloé—that’s more chillaxed and less expensive. In the meantime, she signs a deal with the Gucci Group to launch a label all her own. From day one, she vows to never use fur or leather.
2003 – For her wedding to Alasdhair Willis—mag publisher-turned-furniture designer she DIYs the gown. Course, this isn’t a Singer sewing machine affair, and it’s modeled after her mom’s.
2004 – While creating the costumes for Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour, Stella teams up with Adidas on activewear (that peeps like Kate Hudson embrace as daywear, too).
2005 – A 40-piece collab with H&M sells out crazy fast. Next stop: Target. Oh, and her first of three kids!
2009 – Here comes a presh capsule collection with Gap Kids—so good that grown-ups were trying on size 14-16 band jackets. Icing on the cake = making the Time 100 list.
2012 – Thanks to her long-standing relationship with Adidas—and, oh yeah, her immense talent—Stella is asked to create all of the outfits for the British national teams for the London Olympics and the Paralympic Games—including those all-white-everything numbers for the opening ceremony.
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Where They Were Then: Ralph Lauren
One of the biggest names in American fashion? Check. First designer to appear in his own ads? Yup. Olympic designer extraordinaire? Ummhmm (see how we’re being timely?). Those are just the Ralph Lauren basics. Here’s the whole story. —callia hargrove
1939 - Born Ralph Lipshitz to two Jewish immigrants from Belarus, Lauren’s taste for luxury was there from the get-go: He’s save his moolah from his after-school job at tie maker A. Rivetz and Co. for expensive suits.
1955 - At age 16, Ralph changes his last name to Lauren. In an interview with Oprah, he later explains: “My given name has the word shit in it. So I just thought, ‘I’m going to pick a nice last name’—it wasn’t particularly connected to anything or anyone.”
1957 –Lauren attends classes at City College while still in HS and starts making ties. In his senior yearbook, when asked what he wants to do with his life, he responds that he just wants to be a millionaire. Oh, not billionaire?
1960 - After some time at college (Baruch) and in the army, he goes to work in retail at Brooks Brothers and picks up that tie habit once again. His super-bright and wide creations get scooped up by Beau Brumell, a super-fashion-y menswear store of the day, and become a bestseller.
1967 - Bloomies approaches Lauren about carrying his ties but recommends that he remove his name from the label and pushes to make them narrower. Lauren says, “HELLZ NO” (not a direct quote). Soon after, with the financial help of clothing connoisseur Norman Hilton, he opens a store in Manhattan and sells the ties under the label Polo.
1970 – Ties give way to a full-blown collection that wins lots of prep fanboys. Suits come the same year, along with that now-classic polo emblem on the lapel, offering the Armani stuff on the scene some competition.
1972 - The first batch of polos land, in 24 colors. BAM. Insta-hit.
1974 - Lauren is asked to costume the original Great Gatsby movie…and some people even compare him to the titular character, with his ambition, self-invention, and all that. He goes on to do the get-ups for Annie Hall, too.
1983 - RL decides to delve into the world of home decor, releasing a line of sheets, towels, and furniture—and making him the first designer to take on the task of selling a whole lifestyle. That’s how he rolls.
1984 - The Rhinelander Mansion, formerly home to world famous photog Edgar de Evia and the equally famous interior designer Robert Denning, is transformed into Polo Ralph Lauren’s flagship store. Again: lifestyle.
1989 – To bring on some fresh talent, Lauren appoints a pre-fame Vera Wang as a designer—before that, she was an editor at Vogue.
1992 –Audrey Hepburn presents RL with the CFDA lifetime achievement award. Icon, meet icon.
1999 – Remember that whole kissing Ralph Lauren snafu with Rachel and Phoebe in that one episode of Friends? Yah, that happened.
2000 – Joining the digital revolution, he signs a 30-year deal with NBC to take his game to the internet, TV, and print.
2006 - Partnering with PETA, Lauren announces that he will no longer use fur in any of his collections.
2007 – For the company’s 40th anni, Lauren hosts a huge soiree in Central Park. Lots of Kennedys and Bushes in attendance and one SJP.
2010 - Next comes an award from French Prez Nicolas Sarkozy praising his “abilities as a businessman and his undeniable work at the head of one of the most successful empires in the world.” While in the country accepting, RL opens his first French flagship store—his largest Euro store to date, with six floors and a restaurant.
2012 - Lauren is asked to create the American uniforms for the opening and closing ceremonies for the London Olympics. Although he caught some slack for the duds not being produced in the U.S., no one can deny that the uniforms look amaze. (Also: promises they’ll be made in the good ol’ US of A for 2014.)
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Where They Were Then: Calvin Klein
How would you describe Calvin Klein? Classic? Iconic? Brilliant? All the above? Yah, he’s kind of a big deal. Not only is he responsible for over 50 fragrances, but he’s also the guy who brought designer denim to the masses, long before the Sevens vs. Citizens debate took hold. Below, the scoop on his rise to the top. —callia hargrove
1942 – Calvin Klein is born on November 19 in the Bronx, and, as an elementary student at P.S. 80, takes it upon himself to seek out special art classes.
1958 - Klein spends lots of time hangin’ with his grandmother—a seamstress who once worked with the pioneering American sportswear designer Hattie Carnegie—and his equally fashion-obsessed mom. After graduating from the High School of Art and Design, he decides those matriarchs are onto something. Get this kid to F.I.T.
1963 - Klein gets his apparel-design degree and heads off to work for Dan Millenstein, a super-well-known Seventh Avenue coat and suit manufacturer. Any downtime is spent working on his own designs—total start-up mode.
1968 - Calvin and his bestie Barry Schwartz team up to create the first Calvin Klein line, mostly outerwear. In the most amazing “accident” ever (we like to think it was kismet), a buyer from Bonwit Teller, the It department store at the time, gets off an elevator on the wrong floor—the one that houses Calvin’s workroom, duh. Impressed by what he sees, he places a $50,000 order, springing Klein into the fashion world overnight.
1970 - Enough with this outerwear. With encouragement from the press and Bonwit Teller, Klein adds ready-to-wear and couture gowns to the mix.
1973 - On the heels of his success, he wins his first COTY award—and then lands three more in as many years. Vogue says, “If you were around a hundred years from now, and wanted a definitive picture of the American look in 1975, you’d study Calvin Klein.” Um, whoa.
1978 - After a light-bulb moment at Studio 54—hey, it’s the late seventies—Calvin introduces the idea of designer denim, casting 15-year-old Brooke Sheilds to star in the ads. The campaign—”You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”—stirs up plenty of controversy…and moves 200,000 pairs of jeans the first week they hit the market.
1981 - Deciding to make an empire of this thing, the designer intros his first scent Calvin. Like everything he touches, the fragrance becomes an instant hit.
1984 - Klein decides to conquer the undies market, too, and creates a pair of semi-androgynous briefs for women inspired by his assistant’s admittance that “there’s something sexy about wearing your boyfriend’s underwear.”
1990 - CK, a lower-priced line aimed at 20-somethings like his daughter Marci, hits. The ads embrace the grunge movement and feature PYTs like Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg—well, Marky Mark. This was before we were meant to take him seriously.
1994 – Klein creates the world’s first unisex fragrance, CK One, which is so major that it ends up in the Fifi Fragrance Hall of Fame.
1995 - It’s time for a store! A Greek revival building on Madison Ave. will do, no?
1996 - Cher Horowitz brings down her father’s wrath when she bounces down the stairs in a white Calvin Klein slip dress that becomes so cultish that it’s rereleased 15 years later.
2003 - On the heels of an honorary doctorate from F.I.T, Klein sells his co. to Phillips-Van Heusen for, oh, over 400 million dollars. He vows to continue to head of creative.
2012 - Calvin is chosen as one of Time’s top 100 fashion icons of all time. As if you didn’t see that coming.
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Where They Were Then: Oscar de la Renta
Get this: Oscar de la Renta has been relevant for 50 years. As in, half a century. In that time, his designs have been worn by princesses and presidential candidates, Oscar noms and up-and-comers. Here, a look at how the man became the brand. —callia hargrove
1932 - Oscar de la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic on July 22nd. During his childhood, he found inspiration all around, with the help of his six (yes, SIX!) sisters.
1950 - At 18, he heads to Spain to pursue painting at the Academy of San Fernando and is sucked in by Spanish culture and the way all those señoras dress. He ditches the brushes and shifts his focus to fashion, landing an apprenticeship with the world-renowned Cristóbal Balenciaga.
1960 - De la Renta heads to Paris and joins the House of Lanvin as a couture assistant under Antonio Castillo. His penchant for embellishment? That came from his time there.
1961 - After a stint in Paris, he considers ditching haute couture in favor of ready-to-wear. But when he moves to NYC to make the switch, Diana Vreeland, Vogue’s editor-in-chief at the time, urges him to stick to couture. He signs on to design beauty guru Elizabeth Arden’s custom-made clothing line.
1962 – Smooth move. The success of Elizabeth Arden’s line makes de la Renta an instant It-man on the fashion scene. He becomes so major that Jackie Kennedy signs him on as one of her main dressers.
1965 - Basking in his success, Oscar de la Renta decides to follow his intuition and releases his own ready-to-wear label. Oscar’s first collection reflects his Dominican roots, Latin experiences, and an affinity for luxurious fabrics and embellishments courtesy of his time in Paris. Fun fact: That first show had only six models, who did their own hair and makeup. Seriously.
1967 - He takes home the COTY American Fashion Critics’ Award—a sort of fashion-world Oscar (heh). And the next year, he goes ahead and wins the award again, eventually earning a place in the hall of fame.
1973 - For the next three years, he serves as President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. During his tenure, he creates the CFDA awards so that lots of other talented people can win awards, too.
1985 - Miss O, Oscar’s first lower-priced line was created (cc: all the eighties recessionistas).
1989 - Nancy Reagan wins a CFDA Lifetime Achievement award, an obvious result of bringing on Oscar as her primary dresser. He goes on to outfit other White House dwellers like Hilary, Laura B., and those Bush twins.
1993 - Oscar becomes the head couturier of Balmain—the first American to design for a French house. Dress sales shoot up.
2001 - SJP on SATC receives an Oscar dress de la Alexander Petrovsky, a.k.a. The Russian. De la Renta credits her with helping to bring his brand into the 21st century.
2004 – Next up: a store on Madison Ave. Oh, and, a second budget-friendly line O—inspiring that whole thing we now call diffusion.
2006 - De la Renta delves into bridal, and, to the shock of no one, takes the industry by storm.
2012 - For the the premiere of the final Harry Potter film, Emma Watson choses an Oscar gown, speaking to the designer’s timeless appeal (‘cause what’s more next-gen then Harry Potter?). Clearly Oscar isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
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Where They Were Then: Jil Sander
When Jil Sander unveiled her first collection in 1973—centered on minimalism and pared-down design—it landed with a thud. Thing is, when she started her career it was all about opulence, shine, and yes, shoulder pads. But the German “Queen of Less” rose above, creating a whole new kind of sexy along the way. And here’s how she did it. —sunny
1943 - Sander is born in Wesselburen in Northern Germany.
1945 - Bombings in Hamburg during WWII have a huge impact on her childhood. Looking back, Sander reveals to The New York Times, “My mother always said that we were too poor to buy too cheap.”
1963 - After earning a degree in textile engineering, she lands a gig as a fashion editor at the German mag Petra.
1968 - Sander opens her first boutique in Hamsburg, selling brands like Sonia Rykiel and slowly slipping her own designs onto the racks. Sneaky.
1973 - When she is just 24, she launches her line, full of minimalist pieces for working women: a series of monochromatic jackets, trousers, and shirts. Yeah, all you Calvin Klein and Alex Wang lovers, say hello to the original.
1979 - Next stop: a fragrance. (Duh.)
1993 - She opens her first flagship store in Paris. The four-story space once served as the atelier of Madame Vionnet, who was known for introducing bias cut, a sleek way to flatter the body. Sista from anotha mista much?
1997 - Twenty-four turns out to be a signficant number, even pre-Jack Bauer. The designer launches her menswear line at age 48, 24 years after she started designing for the ladies.
1999 - Sander sells 75 percent of the company to Prada in hopes of expanding the accessories business.
2001 - Sander resigns abruptly as chairwoman and chief designer. In keeping with her minimalistic tendencies, her statement to The New York Times: “I always thought I would be the last person to leave the company.”
2003 - And…she’s back! Prada worked for it. The designer’s first request, according to Time: “Get me 15 white shirts, quick! No one does nice plain white shirts anymore except Yohji.”
2004 - Sander officially resigns from her post—this time for good. Sad face. But her label continues to exist and carry her name.
2005 - Belgian designer Raf Simmons becomes creative director, adding more color to the mix without losing sight of Jil Sander’s precise and tailored looks. Savvy move for someone who hasn’t had any formal training in fashion.
2009 - Jil Sander returns to fashion once again for a collab with Uniqlo, +J. She modernizes pieces like the pea coat, the hoodie, and the white shirt (yup, that again.)
2011 - After three successful years, the Uniqlo collaboration ends. We’re all anxiously awaiting her next big thing.
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Where They Were Then: Phillip Lim
If you can believe it, there was a time before Phillip Lim. There was an era when his classic-but-surprising line was not in every single store you entered—somehow attracting you to it despite its prevalence. He had his first runway show a mere six years ago, and, in length of a senatorial term, he has grown a massive, massive business with flagships in New York, L.A., Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo. Here’s how he did it. —sunny
1973 - Phillip Lim is born in Thailand to Chinese parents—his mom’s a seamstress, and his dad’s a professional poker player—who move their clan to Cambodia months later.
1974 - A year after his birth, his parents uproot the family again, this time to Orange Country, California. Seth, Summer, Ryan, and Marissa welcome him with open arms. Or something.
1988 - Phillip begins playing tennis the summer after eighth grade. Upon hearing that the tennis brand Prince would sponsor the player on the team with the most potential, Lim, only a freshman, challenges the team’s star and wins. As he tells Fast Company, “I don’t know if I was good, but I was determined.”
1991 - Lim enrolls at CSU Long Beach to study business. As he tells Esquire, “Coming from a traditional Asian-American background, there were a couple things I could be: a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, or a businessperson…So I majored in business.” With a year left before graduation, he realizes he hates business and switches to home ec with a focus on fashion merchandising. #rebellion
1998 - While working retail at Barneys in Beverly Hills, he unpacks a delivery from Katayone Adeli and instantly wants to work for her. He applies for an internship and becomes a design assistant within two years—a gig he’s able to land without even knowing what a portfolio is.
2000 - When Adeli moves to New York, Lim decides to stick in out in L.A., ultimately launching Development—“a collection of simple clothes for girls in their twenties,” as he tells New York magazine—with Andy Crane and Stuart Gaddis.
2004 - Creative clashes at Development lead to his departure. His friend Wen Zhou flies him out to New York, tells him (per New York mag) “I’m tired of you crying,” and throws down $750,000 for Lim to do his own company. Their mutual age—31— gets woven into the name for the line, ensuring we can never forget when it all started.
2005 - 3.1 Phillip Lim lands at NYFW with his debut collection for fall 2006. In Vogue, Anna Wintour later claims that Lim has revolutionized fashion by creating contemporary designer clothing that girls can buy “without breaking the bank.” Not bad, not bad.
2007 - Lim introduces men’s, kids’, and eyewear lines—and opens his first store in Soho. And! He wins the CFDA Swarovski Award for emerging talent in womenswear, beating out Thakoon Panichgul and Rodarte. NBD.
2008 - Celebrities—Rachel Bilson! Natalie Portman! Sarah Jessica Parker! Beyoncé!—wear his designs. Lauren Conrad name drops him on The Hills.
2010 - Lim works with Kanye West on costumes for his short film, “Runaway.” Sorry, guys: The insane, feathered looks aren’t Lim’s. Fast-forward to the the sleek white-and-black tuxedo jacket Kanye is wearing.
2011 - Word is a Hong Kong store will open by the end of the year—make that six flagships. Plus, annual sales are expected to hit a whopping $60 million. Holla.
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Where They Were Then: Miuccia Prada
Miuccia Prada was a poli-sci major, a onetime member Communist party, and a passionate feminist who entered into a world of fashion that she once described as frivolous. Talk about conflicting interests. Here’s how she managed to take all of that and grow—in a major, may-jah way—the iconic luxury-goods company she inherited from her grandfather. —sunny
1949 - Miuccia Prada Bianchi is born in Milan, Italy. She’s the youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, who at one time believed women should have no role in business.
1970 - Miuccia graduates from the University of Milan with a doctorate in political science—and becomes a mime for six years. She claims it’s because it gives her an excuse not to talk and that being “strange or different or eccentric” (per CNN) is in at the time.
1978 - She reluctantly takes over the luxury leather goods company that her grandfather had founded in 1913 and that her mother Luisa had been running for nearly 20 years. Key word: reluctantly.
1985 - A turning point for Miuccia Prada: She creates the quintessential bag—the black mini backpack—that would become a Prada staple. Eschewing standard luxury-world materials, she instead crafted it with a heavy-duty nylon originally used in the Italian army. Talk about revolutionary—and, no, not in the Marxist way.
1989 - Prada (finally!) launches her first ready-to-wear collection, to critical acclaim.
1990 - Prada, along with her business partner/husband Patrizio Bertelli go on a “buying spree,” scooping up labels like Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, and Azzedine Alaia. The acquisitions prove unprofitable and hinder the Prada label, but that’s one posh misstep.
1993 - Miuccia debuts the less expensive Miu Miu (her own nickname), inspired by her own personal wardrobe. That same year, she winds up winning the CFDA International Award, turns out a menswear line, and opens Prada’s Madison Avenue store in Manhattan. Yah, busy.
2007 - Prada is a full-fledged fashion conglomerate. And now one with an e-commerce site.
2011 - The Met announces that the Costume Institute will pair the works of Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada (on view next year from May 7 to August 19). Some have been questioning what could stand up to the last exhibition, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.” Pretty sure they’ve found their answer.