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The 10 Hardest Working Designers In Fashion

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Given the current economic climate, we couldn't help but feel this latest Fashion Week was overcast with a chance of showers. Yet, when clouds form and belts tighten, it becomes even easier to see which designers can genuinely innovate no matter how scant their resources, and which clothiers are just smoke and mirrors held up by money. Creating short films to showcase collections, traveling to remote Indian villages for fresh inspiration, opening new boutiques in a time when others are closing flagships—fashion's best entrepreneurs are using extraordinary effort and ingenuity to grow their brands in the face of a shrinking economy. Take a few lessons from our top ten of the hardest working designers in fashion—because, when times get tough, the best get even tougher.

Diane Von Furstenberg


Call her fashion's version of a Wonder Woman (a comparison she openly encourages). This unofficial cultural hostess of the Meatpacking District, CFDA President-Elect, and CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award winner isn't resting on her laurels, but continuing to expand her brand's clothes, accessories, shoes, bags, cosmetics, and swimwear (sold in 56 countries) at a pace that would kill a vigorous go-getter half her age.

Above, from left: Diane Von Furstenberg, image via Clutch; Diane von Furstenberg fall '09, image via; Diane von Furstenberg spring '10, image via

Samantha Pleet


Don't be fooled by her cutie-pie appearance. This hungry Brooklyn-based designer has branched out in just about every way possible. She blogs, creates films for each collection, collaborates with Urban Outfitters on her "Rapscallion" line, designs clothes for bands like Au Revoir Simone, produces a men's line, Patrick Pleet, and tries to do it all in the most environmentally-conscious way possible. Look forward to her upcoming a book of paper dolls for Dossier Journal and a new collection of hats and accessories for next season.

Above, from left: Samantha Pleet, image via Fashion Copious; Samantha Pleet spring '09, image via Samantha Pleet.

Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai of Vena Cava


These CFDA runners-up have been running the style circuit like champs in recent seasons. Drawing inspiration from near (Woodstock, NY) and far (India), the duo tap obscure history, African tribal prints, and a touch of contemporary tongue-and-cheek wit to create a brand of ineffable and surprising depth. Who else would ever think of cross pollinating Ancient Egyptian themes and punk styles or pairing silk with beaded safety pins? Their recent collaborations with Gap and Via Spiga helped them gain worldwide recognition, and let's not forget that their blog—VivaVenaCava—is a hoot.

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