The Female Voice

When Claire McCardell stitched up her first denim Popover dress in 1942, she answered the sartorial prayers of American women by creating exactly what she knew they needed. In 1955, she told TIME, "I've always designed things I needed myself. It just turns out that other people need them too." Like the creations of many female designers--Miuccia Prada, Donna Karan, Vera Wang--McCardell's designs were a complete expression of herself.

Over the past century women as much as men have been the innovators in fashion, not just on the runway but also in the boardroom. Women such as Coco Chanel, Anne...

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