How they got there – the early careers of the fashion industry giants
Published: 27 Oct 2014
As some of the most well known faces in the fashion industry, you would be forgiven for thinking that Miuccia Prada, Mario Testino, Vivienne Westwood and Anna Wintour probably knew exactly what they wanted to do from a young age and started their careers as they meant to go on... but that wasn’t always the case. Read on to find out some little known facts about the early careers of these four giants of the fashion world.
Miuccia Prada is the granddaughter of Mario Prada, one of the founders of the Prada fashion label. She began working in the family business in 1978 but not before she had dabbled in a few alternative career options including working as a mime artist! In fact, having trained at the Teatro Piccolo in her native Milan, she worked in this role for five years.
Similarly, before getting involved in the world of luxury fashion, Prada completed a PHD in political science, joined the communist party and took part in a movement for women’s rights - all before she had designed one of her many It-bags.
Mario Testino was born in Lima, Peru in 1954. Before moving to London to study photography, he attended three different universities and studied economics. Having made the decision to move to the UK, Testino worked as a waiter and sold portfolios to aspiring models for £25 each (including hair and make-up) in order to fund his photography studies. During this time, he also lived in an abandoned wing of a hospital.
Now one of the most celebrated image makers of all time and photographer of choice for the Royal Family as well as top models like Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen, it seems his hard work has definitely paid off.
Vivienne Westwood was born into a working class family in Derbyshire. Long before she made her name as a key artistic influence on the punk rock era, Westwood first worked in a factory before deciding to train as a primary school teacher. She was married at the time and mother to a young son and, alongside her teaching, she designed and made homemade jewellery which she sold at the weekends in Portobello Market.
It wasn’t until her first marriage broke down and she met Malcolm McLaren, the future manager of the Sex Pistols, that she realised her future lay in the world of fashion and design.
Our exception to the rule is a woman well known for her strong opinions and for getting exactly what she wants - Anna Wintour.
As the daughter of former editor of the London Evening Standard, Charles Wintour and his Harvard professor wife, Eleanor Trego Baker, Wintour came from a lucrative and influential background, and she certainly made the most of this in her early career. From when her father consulted her on how to make his newspaper relevant to young people, to the attainment of her first job, working as an assistant in the up and coming Biba Boutique in London, she took advantage of all opportunities and used her family’s high flying connections to kick start her hugely successful fashion career. Claiming ‘you either know fashion or you don’t’ following her dropping out of fashion classes, it seems the notoriously stern editor in chief at American Vogue was always a fan of doing things in her own way.
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