Intelligent and pragmatic, Chanel used her powers of seduction to gain a foothold in the competitive fashion world; in succession, she became the mistress of two powerful and wealthy men. Both of her lovers were quite happy to use their money and influence to give her a start in business. From a beginning as a milliner, she rose to prominence in 1920, when her signature fragrance, the incredibly iconic Chanel No. 5, was launched.
After working for Dior, Schiaparelli and Paquin, Pierre Cardin opened his fashion house in 1947. Initially designing costumes for stage productions, he launched his first women’s couture collection in 1953 and women’s ready-to-wear in 1959. Cardin’s company grew into an empire starting in the 1960s when he began licensing his name to a wide array of products outside of clothing.
Son of Russian working class immigrants, Ralph Lauren has transformed himself into the sophisticated billionaire. His classic and preppy designs all draw upon an image of old world wealth and luxury, and he pioneered the concept of clothes as part of a lifestyle environment. Lauren worked in retail before developing a line of neckties. The brand he established, Polo, is now one part of an empire that includes fragrances, home furnishings and luxury clothing. Today, his five billion dollar business includes several clothing lines as well as perfumes, house ware, furniture and paint.
Median annual wages for salaried fashion designers were $61,160 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,150 and $87,120. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $124,780. Median annual earnings were $52,860 (£40,730.47) in apparel, piece goods, and notions - the industry employing the largest numbers of fashion designers. As of 2016,a fashion designer's median annual salary was $65,170. High end designers can earn around $92,550. In 2016, 23,800 people were counted as fashion designers in the United States.