20 Incredible Women on What They Wish They’d Known at 20

Isabel Marant, Janet Mock, Emilia Wickstead, Margaret Atwood, Dr. Barbara Sturm, Jane Fonda, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Donatella Versace
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When Net-a-Porter arrived at the turn of the millennium, it was a retail revolution. In 2000, the Internet was climbing in power, and Net-a-Porter was the spark that lit the match of luxury e-commerce. As the first of its kind, Net-a-Porter became the go-to shopping destination for millions of women, and was the home for thousands of the most important established and emerging designers in the world. Over the years, from its auspicious origins to its eventual partnerships with YOOX, Net-a-Porter has maintained its status as the premier luxury shopping site on the Internet. 

In celebration of Net-a-Porter’s 20th anniversary, 20 phenomenal women – including the likes of Net-a-Porter President Alison Loehnis and Donatella Versace to Jane Fonda and Isabel Marant – share their thoughts on what they wish they’d known when they were 20-years old. From these valuable contributions, Savoir Flair has learned the important lessons of self-confidence, taking risks, and embracing your voice from the women whose inspiring careers have carved a path to greatness.


Alison Loehnis


“You are younger than you think. You will never feel like a grown-up. Never underestimate the power of a smile. You will never regret time spent with family and friends. Travel, travel, travel! Grades don’t really matter that much, hard work does. Go with your gut – it rarely lets you down. What does not kill you makes you stronger – truly. Your long-standing love of fashion will one day come in handy.”


Donatella Versace


“I would tell myself that I am going to have an incredible life, full of love, but also with its share of pain… That I am going to be a survivor, and for that reason I will feel a stronger connection to people, especially those who suffer or are being mistreated.” 


Margaret Atwood


“It’s 1960 in Canada, few writers make a living, and everyone knows women writers are bat-shit crazy and doomed to be single.  My advice: times will change and so will attitudes. You can help change them.”


Jane Fonda

Actor and Activitst

“I would tell myself that NO is a complete sentence. At 20 I was like a colander, I had no boundaries, I desperately wanted to be liked and so whatever anybody wanted I would be compliant.”

Jane Fonda 1957
Jane Fonda at age 20 | Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Janet Mock

Writer and Director

“Don’t let anyone’s lack of imagination, low expectations, or distorted projections sway you from your path.”


Ava DuVernay


“I only learned in the past decade that whatever bad thing you are going through isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you.”


Bernardine Evaristo


“I’d tell her to consciously develop a positive mental attitude sooner rather than later, because it will get her through the difficult times, which might last many years. It will also help her grow her talent, achieve her goals and make her more compassionate towards her fellow humans, which is important for a writer who needs to understand and be non-judgemental towards their fictional creations.”

Bernardine Evaristo at age 20 | Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter
Bernardine Evaristo at age 20 | Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Gillian Anderson


“Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of you. Your opinion is the only one that matters.”


Emilia Wickstead


“It’s easy to get swept up when you’re following your heart, but appreciating the present is an important part of the journey.”  


Charlotte Tilbury

Makeup Artist

“I received a note from a Beauty Editor saying, ‘Knock it to them, Charlotte. I know you’ll be a star’. It encouraged me to keep following my dreams during tough times and really gave me motivation when I was cold calling for jobs and struggling.”


Misty Copeland

Ballet Dancer

“Most of all, embrace all that is to come and know that your voice can be used to bring about change far beyond what you’ll do on the stage during your career.”


Zainab Salbi


 “Oh, how I wish for my 20-year-old self to know that she is so beautiful. That her beauty comes from her loving heart and radiant soul.”

Zainab Salbi at age 20 | Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Roisin Murphy

Singer and Songwriter

“My 20-year-old self was my most instinctive self. I signed my record deal when I was 20, so I would tell myself that following my gut, going with the flow, was the right thing – but take away the anxiety that I didn’t deserve it, that I wouldn’t be able to handle it.”


Dr. Barbara Sturm

Doctor and Skincare Founder

“Don’t spend too much time worrying about things you can’t change. Just move on and smile, because it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things.”

Barbara Sturm, age 20
Barbara Sturm at age 20 | Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Gucci Westman

Makeup Artist

“Never be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone. If you don’t try, you will never know what that new opportunity could have brought you.”


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


“Looking now (at 41) at photos of myself at 20, I cannot believe how much time I wasted believing that I was not enough just as I was.”


Maria Balshaw

Director of Tate

“It would have been nice if someone had also tipped me off that I would one day run the Tate that I so loved visiting when I was 20. But I wouldn’t have believed them.”


Simone Rocha


“I was in my first year of my masters at Central Saint Martins. I would say to myself listen, concentrate, and contribute; [and] visit the library more.”

Simone Rocha
Simone Rocha at age 20 | Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Tata Harper

Skincare Founder

“This is a time that you will never get back. Put yourself out there and don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Most importantly, have fun!”


Isabel Marant


“I think your 20s is a period in which you search for yourself, and an age where you can play a lot with your look. And that’s something you should do, to find yourself and to gain self-confidence.”

Net-a-Porter 20th Anniversary
Net-a-Porter’s 20-year anniversary celebration wouldn’t be complete without a look back at the timeline of its major milestones. From the first international order shipped and the launch of Mr. Porter to its partnership with YOOX, these are all of the biggest moments in Net-a-Porter’s history.

Net-a-Porter Turns 20


Net-a-Porter goes live.


First international orders are shipped.

Net-a-Porter Personal Shopping division launches.


First order shipped to China.

2003 - 2004

Power brands Chloé, Marni, Emilio Pucci, Missoni, Christian Louboutin, Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, Burberry, and Michael Kors join the site.


Net-a-Porter expands with a US site.


Net-a-Porter launches the first "Same-Day Delivery" service on the market.


Lanvin, Etro, Victoria Beckham, and Saint Laurent launch.


Net-a-Porter launches the 1st shoppable iPhone app, the first in fashion retail.

Christian Louboutin 'Barbie' becomes the fastest-selling product on the site.

Net-a-Porter launches the first fashion magazine for tablet devices.

Net-a-Porter joins Twitter.


Net-a-Porter joins Facebook.


1000th member of staff joins the company.

Net-a-Porter celebrates 1 million orders.

Net-a-Porter joins Instagram.

Net-a-Porter celebrates Fashion’s Night Out​ with the first Augmented Reality powered pop-up store.


Net-a-Porter exclusively launches Karl Lagerfeld’s own brand KARL with AR shopping experience available in key cities around the world.


The PorterEdit weekly fashion magazine is launched.

Beauty is introduced as a new category.


Net-a-Sporter is added as a dedicated activewear category.

Net-a-Porter launches PORTER, the Group’s first global glossy magazine which is completely shoppable via AR.

Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter become exclusive online retail partners for the special edition of Google Glass x Diane von Fürstenberg.


YOOX merges with the Net-a-Porter Group to form the YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group.

Net-a-Porter launches the NETSET, the world’s first social shopping network.

Net-a-Porter is the exclusive launch partner for Chanel’s first fine jewelry launch.


Net-a-Porter selected to trial Instagram’s shoppable posts in the US ahead of any other luxury retailers.

YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group and Mohamed Alabbar partner in a joint venture to create the leading online luxury retailer in the Middle East.

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