Harriet Mays Powell on Fashion's Greatest Minds

Harriet Mays Powell on the genius of couture.
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Question: What contemporary designer will stand the test of time?

Mays Powell:    I think Marc will.  I think there will be pieces that will be considered collector’s items as his oeuvre continues to develop.  Obviously, Mr. [IB] who really was around, such a pivotal point in women in society and women’s roles, changing in society and absolutely was the right man at the right place at the right time.  So I think…  but [IB].  It’s going to be in good stead.  I think, [IB] collection for [IB] have been spectacular.  And I think, in a way, he really is the continuation of [IB].  I think, his pieces have the test of time.  Miuccia Prada for Prada, I think Mrs. Prada has done some unbelievable things.  Again, not everything from their collections but I think there will be iconic pieces that will come out and become classics of their type. 

Question: What makes a fashion legend?

Mays Powell:    I think it’s that eternal idea.  I think Cristobal Balenciaga.  I think his change of silhouette, his construction, how he really made clothes was extraordinary.  I think that… even Mr. Dior, I think after the [IB] defining that silhouette and giving women just that… that desire again that they hadn’t have by creating a new look which was scads and scads of yards of wool fabric, which was clearly a luxury, a cinch in waste, a bit of sex, a bit of glamour.  I think that will go down as a pivotal moment.  I think [IB] without a doubt, what he did with women, what he did with very simple ideas and shapes, you know, have moments of…  they call them, sort of, fashion…  a fashion moment.  I remember just a chill running down my spine, seeing an, I mean, perfection in a couture collection of his, were just, you know, 50 dresses and there was one which was more beautiful than the other.  And it was just an oeuvre of unbelievable beauty.  I think, you go back to some of the older, you know, Charles Frederick Worth, I think, was the original couturier.  I think, my great grandmother actually got married in a Charles Worth gown.  I looked at it and look at that dress and it’s a marvel and [IB] and how you can make something like a dress.  So unbelievably ornate with sea pearls and unbelievably beautiful lace and the detailing and the corseting underneath and the boning and the way it was done.  So there are lots of very classic designers.  I also want to mention of the successor to Cristobal Balenciaga, which is a Frenchman named Nicolas Ghesquiere who is currently designing for the house.  But he has the most extraordinary talent.  It’s not always…  when you look at the runway collection, the easiest thing for women to wear although what he ultimately ends up putting in the stores have a lot more wearability.  I think he’s…  and what he does to fashion and taking that Balenciaga idea and silhouette and shape and iconic pieces from Cristobal and moving it into to the 21st century is actually extraordinary.  And I think you’d have to add him to a list of greats as well, current greats.