are female fashion designers at a disadvantage

Are Female Fashion Designers At A Disadvantage Because They Aren’t As Social As Men?

Julianne Moore and Tom Ford

“The moment I leave my office I draw a curtain on my work. Because you know what is really boring? When you work and work and then work some more, and you don’t realize it, but work is all you talk about all the time. Many designers have that problem. Work should be an important part of your life. But for it to be your life? That is very sad.”- Carolina Herrera

A few weeks ago Nicole Phelps of asked why aren’t there more successful female fashion designers in New York? It seemed like an odd question considering that when most of us think of fashion we think of women. But actually Phelps pointed out that though fashion seems like a more female friendly industry it is actually another boys’ club. A more glamorous, satin-adorned boys’ club but a boys’ club none the less. At the CFDA Awards last June the prizes were given out to 18 men and three women. The stats are similar for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. And yet, 85% of Parsons’ student body is made up of women. So why are the women not getting the glory as designers? According to Phelps, women may be at a disadvantage because they aren’t as social as their male peers and this may be holding them back. We decided to talk to some women and men in the industry and see if this was really the case.

Dayanne Danier is an emerging fashion designer for Bien Abye by Dayanne Danier. She said she agreed that female fashion designers are at a social disadvantage. She told The Grindstone:

“Back when I graduated from Massachusetts College of Art, there were more women in the graduating class than men. And the industry still has the population there, it is just that they are working for the bigger corporations were job security is higher. My last job in the industry was working for PVH and for a division that designed for men. There were more women designers [in that department.] But when a designer goes out on their own to start their own label, there is a level of risk that is present that some women can’t take because of family. Whereas the male sex has a little more flexibility. So in short, if the population of emerging solo designers is made up of more men because they can take the risk, then what we see will be mostly male designers in the press. Hopefully thing will change.”

“Given that fashion, unlike film and art, is run by women, you’d think it’d be the one creative industry that champions women, but for some reason, most of the prominent artists are men,” Sophie Buhai, who launched Vena Cava with Lisa Mayock in 2004, told Phelps. One of the main problems seems to be the relationship between magazine fashion editors and designers. Though women dominate as fashion editors they tend to choose male designers because they attend more parties and may have more interaction with the actresses or models they are dressing. They court their clients more it seems.

Like women in every other industry, female designers, especially as they get older may not find the night life aspects of their job to be as important as going home and seeing their family. Designer Daryl Kerrigan believes she lost out on the job at Celine that eventually went to Michael Kors because she had a family life, according to Jessica Allen of Allen Media Consulting told The Grindstone she does see this happening. “It’s something that is just not talked about in a public way in the fashion industry.”

But is it as simple as that? Women don’t attend as many social events and that is why they aren’t winning awards?

Annie Ladino is a New York-based fashion stylist, editor and Chief Stylist for “Shop It To Me.” Her clients include Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexis Bledel and Brooklyn Decker.

“I think male designers dominating the industry at this time is just as cyclical as trends. There have been times in the past few years where the stage would of been predominantly woman however like trends they evolve and sometimes we move into a more masculine dominated area.

I disagree that the fashion industry is another boys only club. The editors of the High Street’s fashion magazines are women. Yet evidently these doyennes see it fit to largely promote male designers since these designers appear to have a pulse on what is rockin’ and what ain’t. Yet the ultimate validation of the most successful designers appear to be, erm, women with money to satisfy their taste. It just happens to be that these fashion erudite women choose male designers simply because the end product is to their liking.

So according to you who is more creative, talented and more gifted – men or women fashion designers…….. for details.

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