Born on March 23, 1954, in Brooklyn, New
York. He graduated from Emory University
with a B.A. In December 1982, Cole launched
his company, Kenneth Cole Productions, with
the debut of his ladies’ footwear. In the Fall of 2000, he
added the Kenneth Cole Women’s Collection. He was one of the first
in the fashion industry, in 1985, to take a public stand in the fight
against HIV. Besides becoming a renowned fashion icon, Cole has also
made himself into a well recognized international humanitarian. The
company’s logo maintains that, “What you stand for is more
important than what you stand in” and “To be aware is more
important than what you wear.” In June
1994, Kenneth Cole Productions went public
on the stock exchange.
Born on August 8, 1922, in Vienna, Austria.
At the age of 16, Gernreich fled Europe due to Nazism.
He immigrated to the United States, settling in Los Angeles, California.
During the 1950s, 60s and 70s, he was considered one of
America’s most innovative yet controversial designers. He pushed
the public’s limits of fashion through his “futuristic look”
in clothing. Through his career he worked closely with model Peggy Moffitt
and photographer William Claxton. Gernreich is most recognized for inventing
the monokini (first topless swimsuit) and the thong swimsuit. He was
also the first fashion designer to use vinyl and plastic in his collections.
Throughout his career, Gernreich was an influential leader in the gay
liberation movement. Rudi Gernreich died on April 21, 1985.
Born on April 9, 1963, in New
York City. He graduated from the High School of Art and Design in 1981.
He then enrolled in the Parsons School of Design. In 1984, Jacobs was
awarded the Design Student of the Year Award. In 1984, Jacobs partnered
up with Robert Duffy, to found the Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc. Then in
1986, Jacobs released his first collection bearing the logo Marc Jacobs.
In 1989, Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy joined Perry Ellis; Jacobs became
the Vice President of women’s design. In 1992, Jacobs was awarded
by The Council of Fashion Designers of America the honor: The Women’s
Designer of the Year Award. In 1997, he became the artistic director
for Louis Vuitton. He also continues to design collections for his own
lines, Marc Jacobs and Marc By Marc Jacobs.
Born on October 2, 1948, in
Forest Hills, New York. At a very young age Karan began working for
Liz Claiborne. Although she attended Parsons School of Design,
she dropped out in 1968. In 1971, she became associate designer with
Anne Klein. After Anne Klein died in 1974, Karan became the company’s
chief designer. In 1984, Karan left Anne Klein and, with her husband
Stephan Weiss, she founded her own clothing company, Donna Karan Co.
Her first women’s collection premiered in 1985. She also created
a bridge line, DKNY, in 1988. She became highly successful from her
Essentials line and elastic bodysuits. Today, the Donna Karan collection
designs everything from women’s formal attire, to beauty products,
to furniture. In 1996, Donna Karan went public and became Donna Karan
Born Richard Klein on November
19, 1942, in the Bronx, New York. In 1962, he graduated from the Fashion
Institute of Technology. He became a protégé of Baron
de Gunzburg, a noted fashion icon. He opened Calvin Klein Co. in 1968.
Klein became well recognized for his talent following his first major
showing at New York Fashion Week. The Calvin Klein line is known
for its clean cut jeans and coats as well as its several perfume fragrances.
In 1973, Klein was awarded the Coty Award for his fashion line. The
company continued to have stunning growth throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Although the company nearly faced bankruptcy in 1992, Calvin Klein managed
to regain its prosperous status by the late 1990s.
Born Karl Anderson, Jr. on August 9, 1959, in Long Island, New York. He is the son of former model Joan Kyrstosek Kors, who is Jewish, and had his bar mitzvah. Kors studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. In 1981, he launched the Michael Kors womenswear line at Bergdof Goodman, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Building on his success, Kors was named the first ever women’s ready-to-wear designer and creative director for the French fashion house Celine in 1997. In his tenure at Celine, Kors turned the fashion house around with blockbuster accessories and a critically acclaimed ready-to-wear line. Kors left Celine in October 2003 to concentrate on his own brand. Kors launched his menswear line in 2002. In addition to the Michael Kors runway collection, the MICHAEL Michael Kors and KORS Michael Kors lines were launched in 2004. Kors currently is a judge on the Bravo TV show Project Runway.
Born Ralph Lifschitz on October
14, 1939, in the Bronx, New York. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School,
in the Bronx. At the age of 16, Ralph changed his last name to Lauren,
a step he considered necessary for success. After only two years of
attending City College of New York, Lauren dropped out. From 1962 to
1964, he served in the United States Army. Following his service, Lauren
began working for Brooks Brothers, where he created the label Polo.
He later purchased this name and began his own billion-dollar fashion
empire. In 1984, he recreated the Rhinelander Mansion, into the main
store for Polo Ralph Lauren. In the mid 1990s, Polo Ralph Lauren became
a public company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol
Born on October 14, 1961,
in Brooklyn, New York. He went to New York City’s High School
of Performing Arts and the Parsons School of Design. In 1987, Mizrahi
created his own design company, Isaac Mizrahi Co. Many of his collections
can be found exclusively at Target stores. His clothing lines are well-known
for its clean-cut, yet fashionable business atire for men and women.
In Fall 2005, the Style Network debuted the Isaac show.
Born in 1981 in Manhattan, New
York. He attended design school at Central St. Martin’s in London, England. In 1999, he became
a design assistant at Tocca New York City. Since the early 2000s,
high profile actresses such as Natalie
Portman, Liv Tyler, Gwyneth
and Claire Danes have all noted wearing designs by Posen. In 2001, he
was named one of the most promising fashion designers. By 2005, many
major clothing stores were carrying his collections. He likes to infuse
his women’s collections with a 1940s Hollywood design.
Diane Von Fürstenberg
Born Diane Simone
Michelle Halfin on December 31, 1945, in Brussels, Belgium.
She was raised in a highly assimilated Jewish household, to a Russian-born
father, Leon, and a Greek-born
mother, Lilian, who was also a Holocaust survivor. She studied at the University of Geneva in Switzerland,
where she graduated with a degree in economics. She moved to New York
City in 1969, with her husband Austro-Italian Prince Egon of Fürstenberg.
Following her divorce to Egon, she began her own clothing company. In
1973, Fürstenberg became well-known for introducing the “wrap
dress.” She continues to create women’s high-end apparel
to be sold in exclusive clothing stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue.
In 2001, she married American Barry Diller, and in 2002 became a U.S.
Sources: Infomat; Marc Jacobs Official Website; American
Jewish Desk Reference (NY: Random
House, 1999) pg. 225-6; New
York Magazine; Fashion Encyclopedia; FashionVue Magazine; Philadelphia City Paper
Net; Wikipedia (Marc