7 Iconic Fashion Items and the Designer Brands That Invented Them


Let’s not take our bucket bags and trench coats for granted. Behind the items we use regularly today are stories of fashion revolutions, timeless pieces meant to empower, and design houses using fashion to solve fancy problems.

The Trench Coat
Burberry Trench Coat

The iconic coat takes its name from its first wearers: the British military in the trenches during WWI. In 1912, Thomas Burberry designed the throat-to-knee, double-breasted coat to protect the army officers against harsh weather. It was initially buttonless, had a D-shaped belt ring used to carry smaller items such as maps, epaulettes to display the officers’ ranks, and a pleat on the back for ease of movement while running and horseback riding.

The Shoulder Bag 
Chanel 2.55 Bag

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In an era when upper-class women were expected to carry tiny purses, Coco Chanel thought it was ridiculous having to carry hers alongside her food and drink at evening events: "I got fed up with holding my purses in my hands and losing them, so I added a strap and carried them over my shoulder.” It was created in February of 1955, and was christened the 2.55, and since then, it became socially acceptable for women to carry their bags over their shoulders.

The Wrap Dress
Diane von Furstenberg Wrap Dress

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The famous wrap dress is simultaneously a result of and a homage to the spirit of liberation in New York in the '70s. The wrap was in fact created after DVF’s separation from her husband, after which the designer was bent on erasing her socialite image and becoming the successful, independent woman she eventually came to be. And because the jersey dresses didn’t need buttons or zippers when worn, the wrap dress allowed her to quietly slip away early the next morning, without disturbing her suitors.

The Woman's Tuxedo
Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking Suit

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In the late '60s, it was still considered inappropriate for women to wear trousers to the extent that restaurants would turn away women who arrived in a YSL Le Smoking suit. But the classic suit soon became a symbol of power, femininity, and sex appeal all at once, thanks in part to Helmut Lang’s timeless depiction of the YSL tux, worn by an androgynous model for a 1975 French Vogue editorial.

The 'It' Bag
Fendi Baguette Bag

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This bag named after the long and narrow loaf of French bread (which you could similarly tuck in effortlessly under your arm) was also the first to hold the “It bag” title. Designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi in 1997, the baguette was debuted by Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City, and epitomized the modern kind of woman who would “pay more for a bag than her rent.”

The Full Skirt
Dior's "New Look"

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Known as the “New Look”, Dior’s structured, flower-like skirts and his Corolle collection in 1947 is considered the first major post-war fashion collection, a symbol of youth and hope, with its indulgent and excessive use of fabric, the absence of boxy and masculine lines, and with practicality definitely the last thing on the designer’s mind. It wasn’t well-received by the public, not even by women, who thought it was “a waste” of clothing and even made banners in protest that said: “Mr. Dior, we abhor dresses to the floor.”

The Bucket Bag
Louis Vuitton Bucket Bag

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In 1932, Louis Vuitton invented what we now know as the bucket bag, not to make a fashion statement, but to solve a social problem: how to transport five bottles of Champagne to a picnic. Called the Noé, this Louis Vuitton classic allows you to fit in four bottles of Champagne with their bases down, and the fifth bottle inverted in the middle.

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Patti Sunio
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