Today’s biggest names in the fashion industry are aging. Their reign is coming to an end, giving an uncertain future to the industry and its fans alike. Just recently, two huge names, Liz Claiborne and Gianfranco Ferre, have passed on, giving the surviving icons a reminder of their mortality. Designers are now being grouped into age decades, marking the contributions of each generation.

In the 80’s group is Pierre Cardin, 85, Judith Leiber, 86, and Hanae Mori, 81. In the 70’s group is Giorgio Armani, 73, Oscar de la Renta, 75, Karl Lagerfeld, 73, Valentino, 75, and Lilly Pulitzer, 76. After them comes the designers in their 60’s, at an age when the average person retires from the workforce. They include Betsey Johnson and Calvin Klein, both 64, as well as Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera, Bob Mackie, Mary McFadden, Roberto Cavalli, Vivienne Westwood and Issey Miyake. People are wondering what will happen to a designer’s brand after they die. However, as previous behavior in the fashion world has shown, the name usually gets passed down to a trusted friend or relative. When Calvin Klein retired in 2003, his assistant took over his company. When Gianni Versace was murdered in 1997, his sister, Donatella took over as well.

The aging and deaths of today’s iconic designers are said to be just one of three waves in the fashion industry. The first is the passing on of these icons. The second is the execution of new deals, such as Isaac Mizrahi’s collaborating with Target. Those who inherit the fashion crowns are said to be not so much the 50’s crowd as those designers in their 40’s who still have half of their lives to lead while at the same time have experience under their designer belts. They include Dana Buchman, Kate Spade, Tracy Reese, Patrick Robinson, Zang Toi, Anna Sui, and Todd Oldham among others. These designers will not only ensure the continuance of the fashion industry but redefine it for a new generation of society.

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