Crazy Day Jobs Famous Designers had Before They Made It

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Having graduated in psychology and going totally off track to work as a stylist for more then 15 years and then a sudden transition into designing my own fashion label just goes to show that life is the most unplanned mystery you will ever experience. Trying to find my foothold in the fashion world I discovered that most iconic designers started of on a completely different career path before they realized their passion for fashion.

Miuccia Prada – Mime Artist

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Hold on to those Prada sunglasses before they fly off your face with that surprised expression, What???

Yes the genius that was lady Muiccia Prada actually trained to become a mime artist with no formal training in fashion. She inherited the company from her grand father Mario Prada. She inherited a  modest company thatonly made leather goods and transformed it into the global power house of fashion that it is today.. She designed the light weight black leather back pack that was an instant success. and introduced her first women’s wear line with the support of her husband Patrizio Bartelli and never looked back.

On 2 December 2013, she was awarded the first International Designer of the Year at the  British Fashion Awards . she was also listed as the 75th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2014.

She said, “I never thought people would want to wear clothes with monkeys and bananas on them. It gave me great insight into people, into how willing people are to put themselves out there. Fashion is an incredible tool for understanding people, for understanding the world.”

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Coco Chanel – Cabaret singer

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Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, the first lady of fashion started off as a cabaret singer. The soldiers who went to hear her sing gave her the name Coco. She grew up in an orphanage where she was taught to sew and then went on to work  with a local tailor. And the rest my darlings is history .

Ladies we only have Coco to thank, for she introduced the concept of relaxed clothing for women in the 1920’s when she made the loose jersey cardigans. A fabric that was used to make mens underwear but the clothes were an instant success with the post war generation of women tired of the restricting and uncomfortable corsets. in the same yer she opened the house of chanel on 31, Rue Cambon in Paris which is still the head quarters of Chanel.

“It’s probably not just by chance that I’m alone. It would be very hard for a man to live with me, unless he’s terribly strong. And if he’s stronger than I, I’m the one who can’t live with him. … I’m neither smart nor stupid, but I don’t think I’m a run-of-the-mill person. I’ve been in business without being a businesswoman, I’ve loved without being a woman made only for love. The two men I’ve loved, I think, will remember me, on earth or in heaven, because men always remember a woman who caused them concern and uneasiness. I’ve done my best, in regard to people and to life, without precepts, but with a taste for justice.”
― Coco Chanel

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Ralph lauren – Tie salesman

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Ralph Lauren studied business science and then joined the army. after which he apprenticed with the brook brothers where he found his calling. He started as a road salesman for ate company. There was a time he wanted to be an actor and he was inspired by his heroes of the time. one of the ideas he got was to make a european style wide neck tie but the idea was rejected by the company as they thought it would never sell. he left the company and set up a small studio if you could call it that and collected scraps to make his ties. the turning point in his career was when Neumen Marcus ordered 1200 of them. And that was the birth of a tie connoisseur and the beginning of his meteoric rise in the world of fashion.

“I never went to fashion school. I didn’t know what a designer was. I knew I had something, but I didn’t know what it was. And it could just have easily been nothing.”
― Ralph Lauren

American fashion designer Ralph Lauren poses outdoors, leaning against a wooden fence and holding his hat, with horses behind him, 1970s. (Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images)

(Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images)

American fashion designer Ralph Lauren poses outdoors, leaning against a wooden fence and holding his hat, with horses behind him, 1970s.

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Vera Wang – Figure Skater

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When Vera Wang did not make it to the olympic figure skating team she joined Vogue as a Senior fashion editor where she worked  for 15 years. She then went on to become the fashion director for Ralpf lauren. She only discovered her love for designing wedding dresses when she drew a sketch of her own. Today who wouldn’t want to walk down the isle in a Vera Wang dress? It’s what wedding dreams are made of.

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“I adore the challenge of creating truly modern clothes, where a woman’s personality and sense of self are revealed. I want people to see the dress, but focus on the woman.
— Vera Wang”

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Oscar de la Renta – Abstract Painter

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Oscar de la Renta learnt painting in madrid and pursued to be an abstract artist at the Academy of San Fernando, but he became enamored by fashion. He apprenticed with none other then Cristobal Balenziaga and Elizabeth Arden before starting this own label. Whats not to love about his sexy creations that would make any woman feel like a trillion bucks.

“We live in an era of globalization and the era of the woman. Never in the history of the world have women been more in control of their destiny.”

— Oscar de la Renta 

Designer Oscar de la Renta acknowledges the audience after his swansong show for Pierre Balmain 09 July 2002 during the autumn/winter 2002/2003 haute couture collections in Paris. AFP PHOTO PIERRE VERDY

Designer Oscar de la Renta acknowledges the audience after his swansong show for Pierre Balmain 09 July 2002 during the autumn/winter 2002/2003 haute couture collections in Paris. AFP PHOTO PIERRE VERDY

Oscar de la Renta at his fashion show at Neiman Marcus- Chevy Chase, MD

Oscar de la Renta at his fashion show at Neiman Marcus- Chevy Chase, MD

Marc Jacobs – Stock Boy

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Inspired by his grandmother’s love of the finer things in live and keen aesthetic, Marc Jacobs followed his heart and now is a name to recon with in the world of fashion. He started as a stock boy in Charivari, a high end clothing boutique. At Charivari, Jacobs was allowed to design sweaters for the store in his free time which helped him get a spot in Parsons school of Design, where he won the  Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award and Design Student of the Year at graduation in 1984.

“Sometimes, you just have to clear your head and get out to see other things. It is very important to be nourished. I love to go to museums and galleries, I like to see theatre, film, dance – anything creative. It doesn’t promise you inspiration, but it nourishes your creative soul, and that’s good.”

— Marc Jacobs

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Christian Dior – art dealer

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Before he became a fashion demagogue, Dior wanted to become an architect. However, at his father’s insistence young Christian was forced to study Political Science. His father had big dreams and hoped his son would become a diplomat. Dior Senior wasn’t all that far off. Fashion does hold many people together.

Dior was always passionate about art and opened an art gallery with money given to him by his father under a condition that their name would not be associated with the gallery. After this venture of his was shut down, Dior sold fashion sketches to make a living. This landed him a job of a fashion illustrator with the magazine Figaro Illustré. It was many years later that he apprenticed with couturier Lucien Lelong which was the start of his illustrious fashion journey.

Deep in every heart slumbers a dream, and the couturier knows it: every woman is a princess. 

— Christian Dior

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Vivienne Westwood – Teacher

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Westwood, the queen of the punk rock fashion movement has humble beginnings and trained to be a teacher. She was introduced much later to the world of fashion and art through her partner, art student Malcolm McLaren, who managed The Sex Pistols. The legendary punk bank often made a fashion statement in Westwood’s designs, and soon she opened a clothing boutique where the Westwood fashion ideology flourished.

Vivienne Westwood as always been the fearless,  naughty child of fashion and never held back from expressing herself. A fashion legend, she will always be an inspiration to designers old and new.

When we started to do punk, we put all of these things together to create the look of an urban guerrilla – a rebel. 

— Vivienne Westwood

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As I look at all these icons of fashion I know that there’s the perfect formula to living your dream: you gotta add a whole of tenacity, passion, dedicated, and hard work. And, of course, the main ingredient: self-beleif. The universe will do the rest. Imagine a fashion world without any of these designers? It always was. But, they ensured that now even the thought is  impossible.

Chola
Written by

Creative Director, Pyjama People

She got her start working on Manisha Koirala’s costumes for the 1999 movie Mann and hasn’t looked back since! A veteran of the business, Cho’s styled films like Calcutta Express, to numerous national and international advertisements. She’s also a personal stylist to stars like Neha Dhupia and has two clothing brands — Bachcha Party for kids, and Chola(!!) After her debut collection The Pyjama Tribe Sohaya was named the Grazia's Young Designer of the year 2016.

Twitter @chola_is_me / Instagram: @sohaya

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