Exhibition \\ Made It

Section 2: Gaining Momentum

Enterprising women established a variety of executive and creative roles as they pushed for equality in life and business. They made significant inroads in the evolving fashion industry of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and laid a forward path for a future generation of designers. The Western world saw the first fashion designer, the establishment of the department store, and the start of fashion journalism.

Lucy Duff Gordon, dress, 1913–15, for Lucile Ltd. Peabody Essex Museum, gift of James J. Minot, 1979. 134686. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Bob Packert

Lucy Duff Gordon, dress, 1913–15, for Lucile Ltd. Peabody Essex Museum, gift of James J. Minot, 1979. 134686. © 2019 Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Bob Packert


Women in associated new roles followed their intuition and leveraged their dressmaking skills and business acumen as they carved out space for themselves in a crowded market. They promoted new business models, forged strong partnerships, and used their own names and faces to brand their houses. These leaders and the teams that supported them altered the way people conceived, consumed, and marketed fashion. Their contributions made a lasting impact on the system.

Section 1: Breaking In

Section 3: Seismic Shifts

Section 4: Making Choices

Section 5: Designing for Change

Made It: The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion