Designers With Day Jobs, Marni, Etc.

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Have you ever wondered how it is that haute couture fashion houses such as Marni, Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester make money? One possible answer: by being open to opportunities.

Designing uniforms

Earlier this week, the staff at Kensington Palace unveiled their new uniforms, which were designed by high-end British fashion label Jaeger. Won’t be long before Prince William and Kate Middleton can take up residence alongside the gold-trimmed staff.

Antwerp, Belgium-based designer Dries Van Noten may not produce uniforms, but he sure seems to have been inspired by them. Some of his most recent looks have been described as military.

Designing accessories

Dries Van Noten’s peplum pants may have been the talk of Paris during Fashion Week this spring, but one suspects that his shades, which have also been generating a lot of buzz, may outperform the peplum pants at the cash register.

Designing special lines for big-name retailers

Consuelo Castiglioni of Italian fashion house Marni recently designed a capsule wardrobe for Swedish clothing giant, H&M. A capsule collection is a small number of pieces that are meant to be mixed and matched.

In so doing, Marni is following in the footsteps of such designers as Walter Van Beirendonck (who, coincidentally, went to the same Antwerp fashion academy as Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, another acclaimed Belgian designer. More about Demeulemeester below!)

Like Castiglioni of Marni, Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester’s co-alumnus, Walter Van Beirendonck designs a line of clothing for a retail chain, Belgium’s JBC.

Unlike Castiglioni of Marni, though, Van Beirendonck’s lower-end line is for children.

Designing special lines for& websites?

Ann Demeulemeester, along with Dries Van Noten, Walter Van Beirendonck and several other young co-alumnni of the same influential Antwerp fashion school, broke onto the fashion scene by driving a truck filled with samples to London Fashion Week. Leave it to her to find a new way to distinguish herself in the fashion world.

In November 2011, Ann Demeulemeester released a four-piece capsule collection for sale online only.

An all-black unisex collection for Christmas time? How very Ann Demeulemeester!

Having their own shop

Ann Demeulemeester has famously refused to work for any of the major fashion houses that have reportedly offered her a job. She has been running her own shop in Antwerp for well over a decade now.

Another purely Ann Demeulemeester specialty?

This designer prefers not to advertise, relying on word of mouth alone.

It seems that in today’s economy even haute couture designers must be creative about how it is that they make money. Because man, it would seem, can not live by peplum pants alone. Marni and Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester and Walter Van Beirendonck, are all examples of labels and designers with an eye to new opportunities in a tough market.