Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Liz Claiborne

From: Belgium, United States
Fields: Beauty and Fashion
 
Claiborne, Liz (1929- ), American business executive and fashion designer. She was born Elizabeth Claiborne Ortenberg in Brussels, Belgium. The daughter of an American bank manager, Claiborne lived abroad until 1939, when her family fled the Nazis. After World War II (1939-1945) she returned to Europe to study art. In 1950 Claiborne won a fashion design contest sponsored by Harper's Bazaar magazine. She then took a job as design assistant with a New York clothing manufacturer and later joined Jonathan Logan as chief designer of junior dresses. She left in 1976 and established Liz Claiborne, Inc., where she designed and produced moderately priced sportswear for women. Her aim was to provide clothes appropriate for either work or leisure, and her designs were marked by cleanly sculptured silhouettes and splashes of color; these quickly supplanted the dark, tailored suits then popular. In 1980 Claiborne was named the fashion industry's first Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year. A year later her firm made a public stock offering, after which it began to diversify, adding petite, dress, and shoe divisions. In 1986 the company was listed among the Fortune 500 for the first time. In 1987 Claiborne, already president, was elected chairman and chief executive officer of the company. She retired in 1989 and subsequently has lectured at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Parsons School of Design.

"Claiborne, Liz" Microsoft® Encarta.
Copyright© 1995 Microsoft Corporation.

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