The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion: 250 Years of Design

Edited by Petra Slinkard
Contributions by 
Madelief Hohé, Lan Morgan, Paula Richter, Petra Slinkard, and Rachel Syme

Celebrated and hidden figures from First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress to Elsa Schiaparelli and Chromat revealed through their stories and compelling selected works.

Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Donna Karan, Diane Von Fürstenberg, Vivienne Westwood, Sarah Burton, and Iris van Herpen are among the great women designers to emerge in the last few decades. We now live in an age when no one would dare refer to them as “that little seamstress,” as Paul Poiret disdainfully referred to the renowned Gabrielle Chanel more than a century ago. He targeted her not only because she was a woman but because she was also a major competitor. The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion highlights early innovative and contemporary designers working in a variety of materials and genres. This ambitious volume profiles more widely known early fashion vanguards such as Jeanne Lanvin, Callot Soeurs, and Madeleine Vionnet, as well as underrepresented women who revolutionized fashion from the mid-1700s to the present.

More than one hundred works—from street fashion, ready-to-wear, traditional, and haute couture—celebrate women designers’ concept of dress and beauty. Through the work of more than fifty individual style makers from the United States, Europe, India, Turkey, China, and Japan, The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion illuminates issues of representation, creativity, and distinctiveness, as well as the labor challenges surrounding fashion today. Focused essays within this arc examine concepts relating to consumption, politics, hybridity, and transculturation.

The publication accompanies the exhibition Made It: The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion on view at the Peabody Essex Museum from May 16 to September 7, 2020.

Petra Slinkard is The Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Peabody Essex Museum.


SKU #200
12h × 9”w
Peabody Essex Museum and Rizzoli Electa, 2020
ISBN 9780847868223 (hardcover)
144 pages with 100 illustrations


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