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Tough times never deter the truly passionate. The past decade has seen an explosion in the number of aspiring designers, striving to build careers in fashion. Among those who have already found an impressive level of success: Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, who burst out of Parsons in 2002 with a chic, grounded sportswear sensibility; Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, capturing attention with their lyric, artful moodiness; Giles Deacon, delighting with controlled kookiness; Tao Kurihara, infusing Japanese intensity with gentle charm for Tao Comme des Garçons, and Haider Ackermann, whose powerful spring collection so impressed a certain fashion deity, he snagged an invitation to the Chanel show.
Also strong: Thakoon Panichgul, Jason Wu, Gareth Pugh, Alexis Mabille, Phillip Lim, Christopher Kane, Joseph Altuzarra, Jonathan Saunders, Alexander Wang, Ohne Titel, Marchesa, The Row—to name just a few. Any litany leaves massive gaps, as the ranks are as impressive as the talent pool they represent.
Heartening, too, is the unprecedented support for these designers from entities as varied as Anna Wintour’s Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund and Spiga2, the new Milanese store opened by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. “Fashion,” the sage Michael Kors noted, “is not for sissies,” and the path ahead is rife with challenges. Yet as dazzling as designers have made the past 100 years, surely the next hundred are off to a promising start.