12 Successful Designers Who Got Their Start In Another Field

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You may be surprised to find out that not all of today’s well known fashion designers received proper training or even started their careers in fashion at all. From editors and publicists to actresses, the journey of these creative minds into fashion design proves that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself (and become uber-successful in the process).

Rachel Zoe, Editor and Stylist

Rachel started her career as an editor at YM magazine before branching out as a stylist at the age of 25. It was only in 2011 that she added designer to her resume.

Photo: @rachelzoe

Vera Wang, Editor

Vera Wang worked her way up to Senior Editor at Vogue before landing a job as an accessories designer at Ralph Lauren in 1987. She launched her own label in 1990.

Photo: @verawanggang

Thakoon Panichgul, Writer

Business grad Thakoon Panichgul was Associate Features Editor at Harper’s Bazaar before deciding to attend Parsons School of Design in 2001.

Photo: @thakoonny

Victoria Beckham, Pop Star

Victoria Beckham famously transformed from Spice Girl in the 1990s to celebrated fashion designer in the early aughts, starting her line with a series of body-con dresses.

Photo: @victoriabeckham

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Actresses

These famously low-key twins spent nearly 20 years acting (hel-lo Full House) before taking over the fashion world with their labels Elizabeth and James and The Row.

Photo: @elizandjames

Tory Burch, Publicist

Tory Burch worked in PR and advertising at Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren and Loewe before starting her own iconic brand in 2004.

Photo: @toryburch

Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, Retailers

The owners of eclectic boutique Opening Ceremony moved on to become the creative directors for LVMH-owned brand Kenzo in 2011. (While Leon had worked as a designer for Gap in the 1990s, Lim was previously on the business side.)

Photo: @kenzo

Jason Wu, Toy Designer

Before launching his eponymous label in 2006, Jason Wu designed clothing for an upscale doll manufacturer, which sold inventory to FAO Schwarz among others.

Photo: @jasonwu

Jennifer Meyer, Publicist

Meyer worked as a publicist under fashion houses such as Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren before launching her cult-loved fine jewelry line in 2005.

Photo: @jenmeyerjewelry

Tom Ford, Actor

Tom Ford was an actor in LA before leaving to pursue an architecture degree at Parsons. He decided to switch to fashion design during his last year of study at the school.

Photo: @tomford

Vivienne Westwood, School Teacher

Vivienne Westwood was a teacher for nearly a decade before quitting to design for her husband's boutique in London.

Photo: @viviennewestwoodofficial

Miuccia Prada, Mime

Although born into a fashion family, Miuccia Prada had professional mime training. She spent 5 years pursuing this career path before joining the family business.

Photo: @vogueparis