Haute couture is synonymous with glitz and glamour, but there is more to fabulous fashion than meets the eye. Some of the world’s premier fashion houses and designers are no less renowned for their philanthropic work, tirelessly dedicating time and resources to the social causes they are passionate about. From lending a helping hand to disadvantaged youth, to cancer research and supporting the arts, these five charitable couturiers prove that the beauty of their showstopping styles is anything but skin-deep.
From Les Beaux-Arts restoration to Habitat for Humanity, supporting children’s literacy to beating breast cancer, the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation’s philanthropic initiatives are far-reaching; a product of the designer’s all-American generosity. Beginning over 40 years ago with a collection of ties, Ralph Lauren has grown his legendary label into an icon of American style and tradition.
Always the image of impeccable elegance, Carolina Herrera is no stranger to glowing accolades, both for her refined collections, which range from fashion to fine fragrance and bridal couture, to her dedication to community and charity. The Venezuelan-born designer has been recognized with a number of awards for her philanthropic service, including receiving the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion at the Crystal Charity Ball, which raises funds for children’s charities.
Herrera’s zest for life is captured in this scene-stealing crimson ball gown, which needs nothing but understated black accessories and a diamond sparkle to shine on the red carpet.
Lebanese fashion guru Elie Saab has generated a cult following with his exquisitely embellished fabrics and a unique philosophy that fuses West and East and has captured the hearts of royalty and Hollywood darlings. Focusing on flowing silhouettes that show off the female shape, the designer’s understanding of women’s needs has led him to founding the Girl of Now Initiative, an organization that works to empower women around the world and inspire young females to achieve their full potential.
In an ensemble ideal for tomorrow’s rising star, sophisticated black lace gets topped with a sharp military overcoat and simply accented with gold detail.
Pretty in Blue
Whimsical, playful, and luxuriously feminine are epithets that have described Monique Lhuillier’s wonderfully effervescent designs, which range from her trademark bridal line to ready-to-wear and luxury-lifestyle collections. The designer gives back through her many charitable engagements, such as the Philanthropic Society Los Angeles, which fosters community initiatives to support at-risk youth.
True to her girlish style, a flounced trumpet gown evokes the blue-and-white patterns of delicate porcelain fit for a royal tea party, coupled with sumptuously soft velvet and dainty accessories in an uplifting cobalt shade.
A name that’s become synonymous with black-tie finery, Dominican-born Oscar de la Renta has for decades stood in a haute couture league all his own, reaching international acclaim for dressing Jacqueline Kennedy in 1960. A known philanthropist in his lifetime, the designer served on the boards of Carnegie Hall and Metropolitan Opera, and dedicated an entire collection to cancer research. These are just a few of his philanthropic pursuits.
An impeccably tailored black dress is the couturier’s signature — and this showstopping version, splashed with vibrant embroidery and complemented with tropical-hued accessories, is the perfect tribute to the designer’s generosity and colourful heritage.
Text by Kate Missine Produced by Many Ngom