“The Mothers of Re-Invention”

Claire McCardell, Coco Chanel & Norma Kamali

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there, and a shout out to my mom, who turned 100 last week!

Chanel fan and androgynous dresser Marlene Dietrich 1933
Photo: pinterest.com

Gabrielle Coco Chanel reinvented fashion in the early 20th-century. She liberated women from the constraints of the corseted silhouette and popularized a sporty, casual chic as the feminine standard of style. Coco introduced what are now staples of sportswear by borrowing from the vocabulary of menswear.

Claire McCardell designs
Photo: qsdaydream.blogspot.com

Claire McCardell is the “Mother of American Sportswear.” At the end of World War II, American fashion was moving away from the more expensive and restrictive French manner. Claire’s designs, which combined style and functional wearability, were like a breath of fresh air.

Norma Kamali Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Norma Kamali is the mother of the “sleeping bag” coat and sweatshirt dressing, among other things. The award-winning designer and innovator has always understood the importance of movement and comfort. She was the first to integrate the worlds of fashion, active sportswear, wellness, and the Internet. The ageless 73-year-old is the definition of modern and has been one step ahead of everyone else since the beginning of her prolific career n 1968. Norma continually reinvents herself.

I asked Norma how she envisions the future of fashion, and she replied:” fashion will be experienced virtually now as a result of evolving VR-AR technology. Fashion will need to protect, enhance, and energize through smart concepts, and it will no longer be called fashion.” When I asked Norma what it’s called, she replied,” TBA (to be announced).”

Kerby Jean-Raymond
Photo by Sasha Maslov-Redux

Flexibility, creativity, and the ability to reinvent are crucial for the fashion industry to survive. Last week’s installment of Vogue Global Conversations focused on “Reinvention during the Crises.” It was moderated by Karla Martinez, editor-in-chief of Vogue Mexico and Latin America. When Karla asked designer Kerby Jean-Raymond what a brand should be in 2020, he wisely acknowledged that he will have to live in the new world of 2021 before he can design for it.

Pyer Moss Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

The prescient founder of Pyer Moss upended the fashion calendar last year when he decided to show “only one meaningful collection instead of 4, 5, or 6”. This show was considered by many in the industry as being the highlight of New York Fashion Week. Jean-Raymond admitted he lost retailers but remains steadfast in his decision. “I would rather put my efforts into one halo event that carries my company through 12 months.”

As for the future, Jean-Raymond suggested that department stores will have to give more opportunities to young brands and allow them to be incubated and grow so that they can prove their worth. He added that stores would need to take an “art gallery approach.” Kerby emphasized the human aspect. “We have to think empathetically about others, or we will never get out of this.” Most importantly, he noted that without a vaccine, we will have more to worry about than fashion.

Hamish Bowles attends the 2019 Met Gala
Photo: vogue.com

It’s not just entire industries and systems, but individuals that need to reinvent themselves to stay relevant. Hamish Bowles is a renowned dandy. Because of the pandemic, he has rediscovered his kitchen and now refers to himself as a “Domestic Goddess.” Instead of elaborately dressing, Hamish is now dressing chickens, and baking bread.

Anna Wintour
Photo left: Vogue.com

Anna Wintour has tried to become more approachable. Pictures have emerged of the Vogue editrix sitting home in comfy sweats, without sunglasses. A few other images have suggested she might even be letting herself go. She’s just like us, after all. Not!

Lyn Kennedy Slater
Photo: today.com

Reinvention is nothing new for influencer and fashion icon Lyn Slater. The 67-year-old former professor, mother, and grandmother writes a lot about reinvention on her popular blog, “Accidental Icon.” The blog has about 120,000 subscribers, with 125,000 followers on Facebook and 729,000 followers on Instagram.

She inspires many of her Instagram followers, who are between the ages of 25-35. Lyn is living proof that getting older doesn’t have to be a horrible thing. You don’t have to do everything by the time you’re 30.

When the pandemic hit New York, many social workers had to go out and check on families without protective gear. Lynn put the word out on her Instagram page, and her followers, including Phillip Lim and Collina Strada, stepped up and delivered about 5000 masks and other necessary protective equipment to different social service organizations.

Anthony Galante non-medical masks

This week, Parsons alum Anthony Galante, who started Operation COVID-10 Garment Renewal on his GoFundMe page, delivered 1000 masks. He has raised just under $19,000.

The pandemic is reinventing fashion’s culture of community.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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