Fashion's Fabulous Families

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From the Kanes and the Rochas to the Rykiels and Missonis, meet the design dynasties for whom success is all relative.

The solid family unit, It doesn't sound very fashion, does it? But from airy corners of Dalston to the decks of super-yachts, designers are surrounding themselves with trusted family members. Perhaps this is a reaction against the big fashion conglomerates, or maybe it's just that the rag trade has always been about exchanging skills with your nearest and dearest.

Christopher Kane, who showed one of the most thought-provoking collections of the season, designs under his own name. Behind the scenes, though, is his big sister Tammy. Like many of these relationships, there is a division of power: the creative alongside the techie or the financial whizz. `Tammy has a lot to do with the business side; she's very sharp. I can always trust her opinions,' says Kane.

Description: Christopher Kane and his big sister Tammy

Christopher Kane and his big sister Tammy

But it's in Italy where the real fashion power families reside. There are the Missonis - three generations of fashion brilliance, with a zig-zagged family home so hip it acted as the backdrop for last summer's ad campaign, shot by Juergen Teller. Then there are the Cavallis, Armanis, Versaces, a husband, wife and daughter at

Marni, the Ferrettis and the Etros . In a world where the corporation is king, it's no bad thing to have a super-luxe family heritage, so potential customers can understand the story behind the clothes - and, hopefully, crave a slice of the action. Margherita Missoni says that although the three generations of Missoni women have different styles, `we have similar tastes, we share the same aesthetic'. Sounds pretty neat being born into some sort of designing dynasty - and just think of all the free clothes

The knitwear crafters … The Missonis

Rosita and Tai married in 1953 and set up a small knitting company in northern Italy the same year. Today, the hugely successful Missoni brand is still family run and owned. Daughter Angela and granddaughter Margherita (right, with Rosita) are creative director and head of accessories and swimwear design, respectively. Margherita says `Fashion is a family passion. It's been a part of my life since I was born. My relationship with my mother works well - she trusts me.

Description: Rosita (right) with her daughter Angela and granddaughter Margherita.

Rosita (right) with her daughter Angela and granddaughter Margherita

Talented designers who work for someone else's fashion house often have to adapt their own way of seeing the world to fit someone else's ideal. That is not our case.' Rosita says `I kept my fingers crossed that Angela would take over as creative director. I knew she had the right skills and enjoyed the confidence of the company.'

The glamazons … The Cavallis

Roberto Cavalli met Eva, the woman who would become his wife and creative director, when he was judging the 1977 Miss Universe competition. Eva says `Living and working together has not always been easy because in your private life you keep on thinking about work. I wouldn't say that I am the boss.

Description: Fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and his wife Eva

Fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and his wife Eva

We are a team, and a great fit. We bounce ideas and concepts off one another. Roberto often has many ideas at once as he has so much energy for life, while I am more reserved. We're a very close family.' Roberto says ‘Eva has an acute eye for detail and will pick up on things I would never have envisaged. The best feeling is when I have an idea that Eva loves and I see the glint in her eye to make it a reality.'

The chip the old block … The Rochas

John Rocha has been designing off-beat fashions for over 20 years. His wife Odette is a company director and now his daughter Simone has followed in her parents' footsteps, launching her own eponymous clothing line in 2010.

Description: John Rocha and His wife Odette

John Rocha and His wife Odette

Simone says `I work with my mum for sales and production; she has so much experience and knowledge of the industry. She comes with me to Paris for sales and looks amazing every day. Creatively, I have learned from my dad to question myself. I remember the first of his shows I went to - it was menswear and all the models looked like skinny cowboys. In the run-up to London Fashion Week we don't have much time to see each other, it's more of a quick phone chat'

The mavericks … The Kanes

Creative director Christopher and his chief executive sister, Tammy, launched their label in 2006. Anna Wintour was at their first show. They haven't looked back.

Christopher says `Tammy and I have known each other for 29 years – since I've been around. It's great. We trust each other, we bicker but we make up. She is basically the main collaborator that I work with; she's the person I'd go to and say, "What do you think of this?" She'll be like, "Hmm," and I'll take on board what she says. I don't think I could have done it without her. I don't know how designers succeed without having someone like her by their side.'

The digital duo … Peter Pilotto

Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos first showed at London Fashion Week in 2007. Their womenswear embraces new and classic perspectives on elegance, with an emphasis on digital print.

De Vos's brother Lyonel (above left, with Christopher) is the label's catwalk music producer. Christopher says `I give Lyonel artistic and creative freedom, but I still have to like the music. We've learned there's nothing better than having a good relationship with your brother - even when I like Eminem and he doesn't.'

The rebels … The Rykiels

Sonia Rykiel revolutionised the way women dress with her inside-out stitching and `no lining' dressing, which reflected her new fashion philosophy - la demode (unfashion). She has been tearing up the fashion rule book since the 1970s and now daughter Nathalie continues the family tradition as the label's vice president.

Nathalie says `You want to impress your family, so you work twice as hard to find your place. I am not trying to replace my mother, I just try to develop and reinvent her philosophy and quirkiness.'

The betrohed … Preen

Engaged couple Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi met at the age of 18 on the Isle of Man. After working together at another fashion house, they launched Preen at the end of the 90s. Their clothes are now stocked in more than 25 countries worldwide.

Thea says `We sit opposite each other at the same big desk, discussing and experimenting all the time. There is hard and soft in our work, because we area man and woman. Do we ever have those arguments where one of us says, "That's it, I quit"? Yes, all the time.'

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