On Teaching Fashion: Who’s Who

Shame on you fashionistas if you don’t know who is captured in the photo above (if you don’t, worry not, for I will reveal their names by the end of this post). 

Two months ago, I wrote about a class project I developed to introduce my Introduction to Fashion students to a wide variety of designers.  I had initially planned that each student would receive copies of their classmates’ research papers.  However, that plan has been revised, and I will now be drawing information for them from a variety of other sources, which brings me to the topic of today’s post:  who’s who in fashion, and how do you find out who’s who? 

My students, without exception, went directly to the internet for biographical information on their designers.  While this is not my preference, there are two sites which I find to be credible and worthwhile, and those are Style.com and New York Magazine.

Style.com has a designer directory, with bios of designers, photos of collections, and links to Style.com articles featuring the designers.  For example, click here to read the page on Karl Lagerfeld.

New York Magazine also has a designer directory, with similar content to Style.com.  To see Jean-Paul Gaultier‘s page, click here

If there’s only one print source my students turn to, I would prefer it be Anne Stegemeyer’s Who’s Who in Fashion.  I have the fourth edition (2003), and it is missing some of the latest designers, which is where Style.com and NyMag come in.  The fifth edition is due in 2010.  The fourth edition contains entries for Mariano Fortuny and Charles Worth, Tom Ford and Vera Wang, and everyone in between.  I’m considering making it required reading in the future, even if only as a means of separating students from google and wikipedia for a few hours’ time (or however long it takes them to read the book).

For you professionals out there, where do you turn for information on a designer you want to know more about?

For my fellow professors, what are your preferred resources?

The people in the photo at top are Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and Sir Cecil Beaton.

Related Articles


  • Ann November 06, 2009 09.34 am

    The Grove Dictionary of Art recently expanded to include fashion, with many thorough biographical articles of designers

  • alyssa November 06, 2009 09.43 am

    Great photo!

  • Marcus November 06, 2009 12.47 pm

    I have to disagree with you about the Internet. Obviously, Wikipedia and whatnot aren’t great sources, but there are tons of fantastic articles from around the world (especially in foreign newspapers and periodicals) that are available to students with burgeoning fashion-awareness online. More than that, there are plenty of fashion forums (TheFashionSpot, superfuture, StyleForum, Stylezeitgeist) that cater to fashion- and design-savvy individuals that provide a wealth of information from communities of shoppers, designers, and other enthusiasts.

  • Meghan November 06, 2009 02.52 pm

    The Grove Dictionary of Art is actually party of Oxford Art Online now. If your library subscribes to this service, you will get both Oxford and Grove articles. A wealth of information!


Leave a Comment

Monthly Archive


Available now: Punk Style by Worn Through founder, Monica Sklar, PhD. Find it at : Amazon.com, Powell's Books, or a bookseller near you.