10 (More) Influential Fashion Designers Time Has Forgotten

From royal dressmaker Normal Hartnell to the English designer who may have invented the mini-skirt, learn about 10 influential, 20th-century designers you've probably never heard of.
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From royal dressmaker Normal Hartnell to the English designer who may have invented the mini-skirt, learn about 10 influential, 20th-century designers you've probably never heard of.
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Now that you've been schooled on 10 fashion designers you may or may not have been familiar with, we have pooled together a new crop of 10 designers whose names aren't recalled as often as we'd like them to be.

In hopes of bringing these designers out of obscurity and into your fashion conscious, click through the slide show for the second installment of our mini fashion history lesson.

For more fashion history by Part Nouveau, click here.

Cape by Emile Pingat, ca. 1895. Housed at the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cape by Emile Pingat, ca. 1895. Housed at the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Emile Pingat, The Mixed Medium Designer

Largely forgotten and often marginalized, French designer Emile Pingat was a preeminent couturier of the 19th century with a reputation and skill that rivaled and surpassed that of his English contemporary Charles Frederick Worth. Active between the years of 1860 and 1896, Pingat dressed the court of the Second Empire of Paris and his designs were highly sought after. The couturier was lauded for his adroit ability to seamlessly incorporate and manipulate multiple design elements such as embroidery, beading, trim and pattern whilst referencing exotic influences and historical elements into one final, finished garment. Pingat would offer a wide variety of garments, however, he became known for his exemplary opera coats and mantles, making exquisite outerwear a Pingat-signature.

Evening Dress by Gustave Beer, ca. 1919. Housed at The Kyoto Costume Institute

Evening Dress by Gustave Beer, ca. 1919. Housed at The Kyoto Costume Institute

Gustave Beer, The Luxury Designer

German-born Gustave Beer was regarded as one of the most expensive couturiers in Paris at the turn of the 20th century and into the 1920s. Beer opened his couture house on the Place Vendôme in 1905, outfitting European royalty such as Empress Frederick of Germany and the Queen of Portugal. Over the course of his design career, Beer’s aesthetic would shift from the conservative yet extravagant S-Curve gowns of the Belle Époque into the increasingly relaxed silhouettes promoted in the 1910s, looking to Art Nouveau and Jugendstil design for inspiration. Beer is not remembered for innovation but rather for opulence in his designs, and his pieces are often described as sumptuous and overtly extravagant.

Attributed to Madame Marie Gerber of Callot Soeurs c. 1910. Housed at the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Attributed to Madame Marie Gerber of Callot Soeurs c. 1910. Housed at the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Callot Soeurs, The Other Exotic Designer

When thinking of a designer who co-opted Orientalist elements into dress, Paul Poiret is almost exclusively credited. Although Poiret was a large proponent of Exoticism, he was not the only designer or necessarily the first. The couture house Callot Soeurs, opened in 1895 by sisters Marie, Marthe, Régina and Joséphine, quickly became one of the most influential, premiere houses of the period, incorporating eastern influences into their designs. Under the design leadership of Marie, Callot Soeurs was known for kimono-style dresses and Persian-inspired tunic and legging ensembles, all exquisitely embellished in paillettes and beads. Callot Soeurs styles were also revered for their use of imported Chinese silks, antique lace and the sisters were one of the first to design with lamé.

Model Jacqueline in a Pastel Print Chiffon Gown by Molyneux ca. 1931 by George Hoyningen-Huene. © Condé Nast Archive/CORBIS

Model Jacqueline in a Pastel Print Chiffon Gown by Molyneux ca. 1931 by George Hoyningen-Huene. © Condé Nast Archive/CORBIS

Edward Molyneux, The Captain Designer

With the initial intent to become a painter, English designer Edward Molyneux began his career as a sketcher for Lady Duff-Gordon of Lucile and soon became her design assistant. Molyneux left Duff-Gordon to fight in WWI, returning with the title of Captain, a title he would retain for the rest of his life, and opened his own couture house in Paris in 1919. Like his contemporary, Mainboucher, Molyneux designs followed the distinctive simplicity desired by the increasingly modern post-war woman. Molyneux is credited with bringing a sense of British propriety to Parisian couture, employing sophisticated restraint in two-piece tailored suits, sheath dresses and evening pajama ensembles worn by high society members such as Wallis Simpson, Elsa Maxwell and Lady Diana Cooper.

Augustabernard gown photographed by George Hoyningen-Huene, Vogue 1933.

Augustabernard gown photographed by George Hoyningen-Huene, Vogue 1933.

Augusta Bernard, The Inter-War Designer

Uniting her first and last names, like many designers of the period, Augusta Bernard would open her Parisian salon de couture in 1923. However, she would only gain significant recognition years later in the early '30s. Like her contemporaries Madeleine Vionnet and Madame Grès, Augustabernard focused on eveningwear that followed the neoclassical aesthetic of the period. Augustabernard dresses were often cut on the bias and constructed together in a piecemeal-like fashion to achieve asymmetry and further dimension whilst remaining unadorned. In 1935, Augustabernard ceased making dresses due to the onset of the Great Depression. Due to the relatively short run of the couturier and its high exclusivity, today Augustabernard dresses are rare to come by, however, they were widely covered and highly lauded by the fashion press of the period.

Sir Norman Hartnell's Final Sketch for Queen Elizabeth II's 1953 Coronation Gown, 1952

Sir Norman Hartnell's Final Sketch for Queen Elizabeth II's 1953 Coronation Gown, 1952

Norman Hartnell, The Knight Designer

Designer to the British royal family, Sir Norman Bishop Hartnell opened his English couture house in 1923 and soon began designing for the aristocracy and members of high society. In 1935, Hartnell received his first commission for the royal family, designing bridesmaids dresses for Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth) and her sister, Princess Margaret. In 1937, King George VI ascended the throne, choosing Hartnell to dress the royal family for the March coronation and even showing the couturier court portraits painted by 19th-century portraitist, Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Winterhalter’s portraits of aristocratic women dressed in soft, ethereal gowns inspired Hartnell to inject a sense of romance into his designs. Today, Hartnell's work is credited with anticipating Dior’s romantic New Look fashions and is most remembered for the wedding gown he designed for Queen Elizabeth in 1947 and her coronation gown in 1953.

Model Selene Mahri in Hattie Carnegie Fluted "Abbess" Hat and Cuffed Gloves, photographed by Nina Leen for LIFE magazine, April 3, 1944.

Model Selene Mahri in Hattie Carnegie Fluted "Abbess" Hat and Cuffed Gloves, photographed by Nina Leen for LIFE magazine, April 3, 1944.

Hattie Carnegie, The Art Director Designer

She could neither cut nor sew, however, Hattie Carnegie would establish one of the most successful fashion houses in early 20th-century New York. Born Henrietta Kanengeiser, Hattie changed her surname to Carnegie, after the richest man in America, and was soon dressing members of that very same class she hoped to associate herself with. Carnegie began her career as a milliner in 1909 with partner Rose Roth and by 1918 Carnegie owned the company, operating as design director for the fashion house that dressed the likes of Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, the Duchess of Windsor and Norma Shearer, among others. Although Carnegie designs were often mere copies of the models created by Parisian couturiers, this was the common practice of American designers and allowed members of American high society to dress in the latest fashions. Hattie Carnegie is credited with promoting the careers of Pauline Potter, Norman Norell, Claire McCardell, James Galanos, Jean Louis and Travis Banton, who all began their careers at Hattie Carnegie.

Model Wenda in a Hardy Aimes Suit, Photographed by Norman Parkinson, 1951.

Model Wenda in a Hardy Aimes Suit, Photographed by Norman Parkinson, 1951.

Hardy Amies, The Tailor Designer

Born Edwin Amies, the designer set up his Savile Row couture house under the name Hardy Amies in 1945. After designing for the Houses of Lachasse and Worth, Amies was financially backed by actress and ex-wife to Cary Grant, Virginia Cherrill. Amies continued the longstanding tradition of the English tailor-made and established himself as an expert tailor of both mens and womenswear. In 1950, Amies received his first royal commission, dressing Queen Elizabeth for a state trip to Canada. Five years later, the designer would succeed Norman Hartnell, receiving the royal warrant as dressmaker to the Queen. Today, Amies remains the sole surviving English house of the postwar years after Claire Malcolm revived the label in January of 2012.

Pauline Trigère Designs on Patricia Neal in Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961

Pauline Trigère Designs on Patricia Neal in Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961

Pauline Trigère, The Parisian in America Designer

Parisian-born Pauline Trigère was born to Russian Jews, fleeing Paris for New York City in 1937 in fear of Hitler’s increasing power. The daughter of tailors, Trigère became a skilled couture-quality dressmaker, prompting her to found the House of Trigère in 1942. The award-winning designer’s aesthetic consisted of well-cut, deceivingly simply garments with often unidentifiable seams, pieces that were both effortless and versatile for the quintessential American woman of which Trigère epitomized herself. Trigère was her own best model, dressing exclusively in her own designs. Although Edith Head claims responsibility, Trigère is credited with designing the wardrobe of the female antagonist of Breakfast at Tiffany’s played by Patricia Neal. In 1993, Trigère was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Diana Rigg as in Jean Varon as Emma Peel on The Avengers, ca. 1965.

Diana Rigg as in Jean Varon as Emma Peel on The Avengers, ca. 1965.

John Bates, The Possible Miniskirt Designer

Most credit Mary Quant with its invention, others André Courrèges, however, the third and most forgotten designer who is attributed with the invention of the miniskirt is John Bates of Jean Varon. Bates was an English designer, active between 1960-80, who reportedly altered his name for his label to exude a more Francophile sensibility. Bates aimed to dress the youth of the time and therefore created garments that were both well designed and low cost. Swing mini dresses with an empire silhouette became a signature of the Jean Varon label and Bates would also design a catsuit bridal ensemble and tube dresses. Today, Bates is most associated with the black leather costumes he designed for Diana Rigg in the role of Emma Peel in the British TV series The Avengers.