13 Designers Give Us the Details on their First Time
… in Vogue.
“The Fashion Bible“, as many would call it, has helped discover and support the careers of some of the industry’s greatest artists. In celebration of my first day back at Indie, I take a look back through the Vogue Archives to get the deets on when some of my favorite designers were first immortalized by the magazine’s glossy pages.
1. Marc Jacobs’ first time was in September 1986. Jacobs is considered one of Vogue’s “seven rising stars of fashion” in its roundup “A New Wave.” (A young Isabel Toledo also made the cut.) By this time, he’d already stirred the pool for a groundbreaking grunge inspired collection for Perry Ellis. He had only shown his namesake collection once, in April of the same year.
2. Alexander McQueen’s first time was in April 1994. “The first one I saw, ‘The Birds,’ in 1994,” wrote Hamish Bowles “was a revelation.” For that show, McQueen summoned the fashion elite to a derelict warehouse, a creepy, claustrophobic space that he filled with the sounds of birds screeching and cars crashing. Out came blank-eyed androids, teetering on dangerously high heels, shirts slashed to the nipple, and pants cut below the line of decency. Bowles was overcome with a “sense of profound unease.”
3. Alexander Wang’s first time was in March 2005. He interned for Marc Jacobs, Teen Vogue, Vogue, and Derek Lam in succession, then dropped out of Parsons after his sophomore year to launch a line of unisex cashmere sweaters. A few months later, the young designer was gracing the pages of Vogue, making a path that eventually led him to Balenciaga.
4. Christopher Bailey’s first time was in November 2002. Hired in the same year to take over the Prorsum line, the relatively unknown Bailey replaces Italian designer Roberto Menichetti as creative director and leads the company into the digital age.
5. Diane Von Furstenburg first time was in August 1969. “I got into fashion by accident,” she will later tell Vogue. Angelo Ferretti, a designer she worked with at the time, “had some terrific fabrics, you know, so I started making a collection. I had no training as a designer or anything like that, but I just felt that there was a need for some little dresses . . . ”
6. Donna Karen’s first time was in February 1974. Long before Donna created a name for herself, she was heading up Anne Klein, reigning at the label when Klein passed away. “The name of Anne Klein was very strong and it was up to me to carry it on or not,” Karan reflects. “I’m doing what I feel is right, not what I think Anne Klein would be doing.”
7. Yves Saint Laurent’s first time was March 1958. After presenting his first collection at Dior, journalists responded with tears of joy. Vogue celebrated the young Saint Laurent’s ascent, hailing his exciting first collection as “slender, myopic, and charming.”
8. Isabel Marant’s first time was in April 2003. That same month, she gives birth to a son, Tal, with husband Jerome Dreyfuss, a handbag designer. Two firsts at once.
9. Tom Ford’s first time was in July 1995. A few months later, rock wild child Courtney Love throws a compact at Madonna—during an ambush of the pop icon’s live interview at the MTV Video Music Awards. “Someone asked Madonna on camera what she was wearing and she said ‘Gucci, Gucci, Gucci.’ That was really the beginning,” Ford will later recall.
10. Karl Lagerfeld’s first time was in 1959. His friend, former French Vogue editor Joan Juliet Buck, recalls, “They hired him to do the fur, and he throws out these unbelievable challenges: ‘Let’s line fur in fur, let’s knit fur, let’s tear fur up, let’s make holes in fur, let’s paint on fur, let’s paint on shearling.’
11. Olivier Theyskens’ first time was in May 1998. A college drop-out, Theyskens refuses to sell his first collection to Barneys. A few months later, Vogue features his eerie designs in a report on “Paris’s New Wave.”
12. Jason Wu’s first time was in February 2007. Before dressing Mrs.O for the Presidential Inauguration, WWD features his RuPaul–doll design, which depicts the famous drag queen in a platinum-blonde wig, red vinyl corset suit, and thigh-high platforms. “It’s about time for a transgendered doll, since gay marriage is in question, and there is the controversy about SpongeBob,” he tells the publication.
13. Oscar de la Renta’s first time was in October 1964. Helmut Newton snaps one of Oscar’s designs on Elizabeth Arden. The rest was history.