Most fashion fads flit by in the blink of an eye. There are a few memorable developments that buck the trend and install themselves as permanent fixtures in the world of clothing. These paradigm changers tend to flow from the heads of the greatest fashion houses, like Saint Laurent, Dior, and Chanel.
The Chanel three-piece, the YSL safari jacket, the Burberry trench – these are but a few of the design innovations that have made the leap from “fad of the moment” to “timeless style statement.” The best of fashion’s iconic designs make a place for themselves in any stylish woman’s wardrobe, regardless of personal taste and age. Here’s a look at some of the fashion world’s most influential and long-lived designs.
The Chanel Suit
Coco Chanel has no shortage of historic fashion trends and designs contributing to her well-earned reputation for elegance. The LBD, the 2.55 flap bag, and so many more – Chanel’s creations continue to make an impact on both the runways and the high street.
The Chanel suit stands tall as one of the designer’s and the house’s greatest contributions to the fashion hall of fame. It retains its popularity in both its original form and in its recent Lagerfield reinterpretation.
The suit has become the cornerstone of the brand’s ‘les éléments éternels.’ Spotted in its early days on fashion icons like Grace Kelly and Jackie O, the Chanel suit still regularly appears on red carpets and in every other environment where timeless fashion is appreciated.
The Burberry Trench
Founded by Thomas Burberry in 1856, the quintessentially British brand began with a focus on tough outerwear. The founder soon took his business to new levels by patenting gabardine, a unique weather-proof material.
Modern Burberry has continued to innovate. The brand’s designer line, Prorsum, was launched in 1998, and Burberry has been thoroughly fashionable ever since. Star designer Christopher Bailey is particularly responsible for keeping the brand’s offerings fresh since 2001.
The Burberry trench coat is an ever-popular article derived from military wear adopted in the British Army in WWI. Today, it is the brand’s most recognisable design. Usually seen with a pair of Chester Jefferies gloves for an iconic look.
Striking a perfect balance between refinement and practicality, it seems unlikely that the sophisticated yet useful Burberry trench will ever lose its fashion appeal.
The Dior Ballet Skirt
Christian Dior took a bold step when he pulled hemlines down in the post-war years. It seemed initially like a step backwards.
Dior was simply ahead of his time in grasping the conclusion that has become common knowledge in the decades since: embracing your femininity is always a powerful choice.
After the austerity of WWII, the fashion world was on the lookout for more frivolous designs. Dior led the charge with his voluminous skirts and cinched-in waists, starting a global trend that would come to be called the ‘New Look.’
The preferred pairings for a Dior ballet skirt have changed over the generations. Today it’s more likely to be worn with casual accompaniments (t-shirts or leather jackets) than the classic Bar jacket from the fifties. The skirt remains as popular as ever, lending all our wardrobes a touch of fabulousness.
The Ferragamo ‘Vara’ Pump
Ferragamo’s patented ‘Vara’ pump turns 35 this year, and it’s earned a healthy birthday celebration.
Fiamma Ferragamo pioneered the bold, distinctive low-heeled pumps in the sixties. They remain the brand’s most iconic shoe. Their distinctive look is expressed by the same signature details: the grosgrain ribbon and the stamped gold buckle.
Ferragamo has not been content to rest on its laurels, either. The design enjoyed a celebrated update when the ‘Varina’ – a more casual flat version of the ‘Vara’ – was launched in 2007.
The YSL Smoking Suit/Jacket
Yves Saint Laurent has a strong claim to the title of ‘fashion’s most empowering designer’.
In 1966, the visionary Saint Laurent introduced ‘Le Smoking Tuxedo’ and upended traditional notions of where the line of ‘femininity’ should be drawn. It boldly colonised strong cues from male fashion and brought them into the woman’s world, giving them new options for dinner, club, and professional wear.
The wool-and-velvet original has been repeated, referenced, and re-imagined in countless ways since its introduction. In modern use, it appears in the most stylish wardrobes as both a two-piece and a jacket.
The Manolo Blahnik Stiletto
In 1971, Blahnik made a huge splash on Ossie Clark’s runway with a sleek, super-feminine new look. It stood in dramatic contrast to the chunky heels and platforms that ruled fashion at the time.
Frequently accessorised with a panoply of feminine details – lace sequins, ribbons, cherries, and much more – Blahnik stilettos surged back onto fashion’s centre stage in the early 2000s. Even today, the latest designs chase the trend for ‘toe cleavage’ established by the classic Blahnik.